The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has temporarily paused the International Trade Commission’s exclusion order banning sales and imports of Apple’s Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. following an appeal by the tech giant.
Suspension of the order allows Apple to resume selling its smartwatches in the U.S. with the disputed blood oxygen feature. Apple said in a statement that its stores began selling the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 on Wednesday, with wider availability by Saturday, and via its website on Thursday.
The tech giant was banned from selling and importing its smartwatches after the ITC issued an order in October to protect medtech company Masimo, which sued Apple in 2020 for allegedly poaching its employees and stealing trade secrets related to technology that uses light to measure blood oxygen levels in the Apple Watch.
President Biden had 60 days to review and overturn the ITC’s order that stopped Apple from selling its watches but failed to veto the ban by the deadline, which landed on Christmas Day.
Apple filed an appeal on Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. On January 15, the court will hear the company’s motion requesting a stay for the entire appeal period. Until then, the tech giant is free to sell its smartwatches.
Apple said in a statement that it strongly disagrees with the ITC’s decision and, in addition to the appeal, is pursuing legal and technical options to ensure it can continue to provide its smartwatches to consumers, for example, by submitting a proposed redesigned Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 for U.S. Customs approval.
The pause in sales did not affect the Apple Watch SE, an older model of the Apple Watch that does not read blood oxygen levels.
“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year. Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, including the blood oxygen feature, will become available for purchase again in the United States at Apple Stores starting today and from apple.com tomorrow by 12 p.m. PT,” an Apple spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email.
“Apple’s teams have worked tirelessly over many years to develop technology that empowers users with industry-leading health, wellness and safety features, and we are pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal.”
THE LARGER TREND
Apple unveiled its Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 at an event in September with new features allowing users to access and log their healthcare data and control the Watch using their index finger and thumb via blood flow sensors.
Masimo has filed more than one lawsuit against the tech giant and, in 2021, filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission that aimed to take Apple Watches with blood oxygen sensors off the market.
In January, a judge issued a preliminary ruling that found Apple had infringed on one of Masimo’s patents.
Apple sued Masimo last year, arguing its W1 watches violate Apple’s patents, and said Masimo was using lawsuits to ban competition.
Apple has also been fighting heart monitoring tech company AliveCor over patent disputes. In 2022, the ITC ruled that Apple Watches with ECG functionality violate two AliveCor patents, and the Biden administration agreed to let the ruling stand.