This follows a legal battle with Masimo over blood oxygen sensor technology, which Apple maintains it developed independently. To expedite the comeback of its latest smartwatches, the tech giant is appealing the ruling. Meanwhile, customers are forced to deal with halted repairs, highlighting the wider impact of this legal battle.
Apple says it strongly disagrees with the USITC’s decision to ban certain Apple Watch models in the United States
Series 9 and Ultra 2, launched in September 2023, are the latest models with a blood oxygen sensor, which can measure the oxygen saturation level in the blood.
This feature is useful for detecting health conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, or COVID-19. However, it is also the subject of a patent dispute between Apple and a medical device company called Masimo, which claims that Apple infringed on its patents and stole its trade secrets to develop the blood oxygen sensor.
In December 2023, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Masimo and issued a ban on the import and sale of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the US. The ban took effect on December 21 for online sales and on December 24 for retail stores.
Apple is appealing the ruling and is working on a software workaround to remove the infringing technology from the banned models. However, until the issue is resolved, Apple will not be able to sell its flagship smartwatches in one of its biggest markets. The tech giant shared the following statement with CNBC, signaling that it is working to appeal the trade ban:
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.
How long will the ban last?
The ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will last until the patent dispute between Apple and Masimo is resolved or until Apple removes the infringing technology from the banned models. The patent expires in August 2028, so the ban could theoretically last until then if no other solution is found.