Import Ban on Apple Watches Enforced as Biden Administration Opts Against Veto

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The Biden administration, led by President Joe Biden, chose not to oppose a ruling by a government tribunal that prohibits the importation of Apple Watches. This decision stems from a complaint lodged by Masimo, a company specializing in medical monitoring technology, against Apple.

The directive from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is set to be enforced starting December 26, preventing the import and sale of Apple Watches that incorporate technology found to infringe upon Masimo’s patents related to blood-oxygen level monitoring. Apple introduced the pulse oximeter feature in its Series 6 smartwatches, released in 2020.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai opted against reversing the ban after careful deliberation and consultations. As of December 26, the ITC’s ruling stands as final. However, Apple retains the option to challenge this decision by appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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Notably, Apple has ceased selling its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the U.S. since the previous week, while the more affordable Apple Watch SE remains available for purchase. Existing stocks of previously sold watches remain unaffected by the ban.

Masimo’s accusations against Apple include claims of employee poaching, the theft of pulse oximetry technology, and its subsequent integration into the immensely popular Apple Watch.

In a California federal court, a jury trial regarding Masimo’s allegations against Apple resulted in a mistrial in May. Meanwhile, Apple has filed a separate lawsuit against Masimo for patent infringement in a federal court in Delaware, characterizing Masimo’s legal actions as a strategic move aimed at paving the way for its own competing smartwatch.