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Apple Watch sale and import ban takes effect from December 26

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President Joe Biden’s administration refused the option to veto the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) order enforcing a ban on the import and sale of certain Apple Watch models, effective December 26.

The government could veto the ruling by December 25 but decided against it, marking a significant move as no presidential administration has vetoed an ITC ruling since 2013.

The ruling stems from a complaint by medical monitoring technology company Masimo, accusing Apple of patent infringement related to its blood-oxygen level monitoring technology.

The ITC’s order targeted Apple Watches with pulse oximetry capabilities, specifically the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models. Cupertino-based Apple responded by the preemptive pause of sales for these high-end models in the U.S. ahead of the Christmas deadline. Notably, this order excludes the lower-priced Apple Watch SE from the ban.

Masimo’s allegations against Apple go beyond patent infringement, claiming that the tech giant hired away its employees and unlawfully incorporated its pulse oximetry technology into its popular smartwatches. This legal battle has been ongoing, with a mistrial declared in a California federal court in May following a jury trial on Masimo’s accusations.

This ban will unlikely to hurt Apple Watch’s sales as people can still buy them from online stores like Amazon. Also, the ban is only for the United States.

Despite the ban, the Apple Watch Series 9 can still be obtained from various retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. However, the ban does prohibit Apple from selling these devices directly through its stores.

The technology giant had strongly disagreed with the ITC decision and is set to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. Apple’s attempts to halt the ban during the appeal process were denied by the ITC last week.

“We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible,” reported CNBC, citing an Apple spokesperson.

Apple’s options moving forward include potential software changes to the blood oxygen sensor to comply with the patent dispute, which might require approval from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Masimo CEO Joe Kiani has hinted at a willingness to settle the dispute, adding a layer of uncertainty to the unfolding legal saga.

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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