Crunch time for Apple? What’s going on with the Apple Watch US ban

21 Dec 2023

Image: © Halfpoint/

US authorities blocked an attempt by Apple to temporarily halt the sale and import ban of some Apple Watch products that are the subject of a patent dispute.

For the past while, Apple has been in hot water over its ongoing patent dispute in the US – and it looks as though its attempts to wriggle out of trouble are not working. The dispute pertains to the tech giant’s Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2.

Apple is battling with medical device maker Masimo over patents – it filed copyright infringement lawsuits against the company last year claiming that Masimo had copied patented Apple Watch tech into one of its own products.

In October of this year, Apple was struck a blow when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled against the tech player. It found in favour of Masimo, arguing that Apple violated Masimo’s pulse oximeter patent, which uses light-based technology to read blood-oxygen levels.

As a result of the ruling, Apple could face an import ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US market, starting December 26, unless vetoed by US president Joe Biden.

“Today’s ruling by the US ITC sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law,” said Joe Kiani, CEO of Masimo, at the time of the October ruling. “This important determination is a strong validation of our efforts to hold Apple accountable for unlawfully misappropriating our patented technology.”

Biden was given a set number of days to review the ITC ruling before the ban could be implemented.

Apple said earlier this week that it was going to temporarily pull the two Watch products from US store shelves and the US store, as it appealed to delay the ITC’s ban while the company drafted an appeal. However, the ITC confirmed the decision to block the appeal via a filing it released on 20 December.

In a statement, Apple said it wanted to pull the products from shelves to “pre-emptively” take steps to “comply should the ruling stand”. Biden’s decision is due on 25 December.

“Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers,” the statement added.

The end result of the dispute – and Apple’s fate – has yet to be decided in this case. However, it looks as though Apple is going to have to fight harder to win the long battle. Earlier in the week, Bloomberg reported that the company is working on “software fixes” and “tweaks” to resolve the ITC’s reservations with its tech.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic