The US import prohibition on specific Apple smartwatch models took effect on Tuesday, as the Biden administration chose not to overturn a decision on patent infringements. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) had ruled in October to ban certain Apple Watch models due to patent infringement related to technology for detecting blood-oxygen levels.
Apple argues that the ITC’s decision was mistaken and should be overturned. However, last week, the company temporarily halted the US sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.
The directive originated from a complaint filed with the commission in mid-2021, accusing Apple of infringing on medical device manufacturer Masimo Corp’s “light-based oximetry functionality.”
“After careful consultations, Ambassador (Katherine) Tai decided not to reverse the… determination, and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023,” stated the president’s executive office on Tuesday.
Apple has consistently expanded fitness and health features with each iteration of its Apple Watch, dominating the smartwatch category. In September, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 9, highlighting enhanced performance and features like the capability to access and log health data.
“Our teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features,” responded Apple when the ITC ban was announced. “Masimo has wrongly attempted to use the ITC to keep a potentially lifesaving product from millions of US consumers while making way for their own watch that copies Apple.”
In May, a trial of Masimo’s allegations ended in a mistrial due to jurors failing to reach a unanimous verdict. Towards the end of the previous year, Apple filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo, accusing the company of replicating Apple Watch technology.