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Business

US lifts import ban on latest Apple Watch

  • By Monica Miller
  • BBC News, Singapore

Image source, Getty Images

Legend,

Apple has won its appeal against a US import ban on its latest smartwatch models.

Apple’s latest smartwatches could resume sales in the United States after the technology company filed an emergency appeal with authorities.

Sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches have been halted in the United States due to a patent dispute.

The US trade body had banned the import and sale of Apple Watches with technology to read blood oxygen levels.

Device maker Masimo had accused Apple of poaching its staff and technology.

This comes after the White House refused to reverse the ban on the sale and import of Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches that took effect this week. Apple said it “strongly disagrees” with the decision.

The iPhone maker filed an emergency request to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was successful in getting the ban lifted.

Earlier this month, Apple “preemptively” removed the devices from its U.S. site and stores nationwide. Sales elsewhere were not affected.

The order from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), issued in October, was subject to a 60-day review by the president, who has the power to veto the decision. That review period ended on Christmas Day, when the White House decided to keep the ban in place.

The office of the Ambassador to the US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, said on Tuesday that it had decided not to reverse the USITC decision after “extensive consultations”.

Apple had requested a suspension of the ban until Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could determine whether the redesigned versions of its watches, which do not include the disputed technology, violated Masimo’s patents.

CBP was expected to make its decision on January 12, according to an Apple spokesperson.

The USITC found in October that Apple had infringed two patents owned by medical device maker Masimo Corporation.

The California company had accused Apple of poaching key staff and taking other steps to steal technology it had developed to measure blood oxygen levels.

Most versions of Apple’s smartwatches have included the controversial blood oxygen feature since 2020. That’s not the case with its cheaper SE models. Watches already sold will also not be affected by the ban.

In a statement released Tuesday, Apple said: “We strongly disagree with the USITC’s decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all steps to return the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the United States as soon as possible.

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