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Apple Watch Faces Setback as U.S. Ban Holds Ground, What's Next?

The Apple Watch saga takes a dramatic turn on the American stage as a recent ban on its imports locks into place
December 28, 2023

In a surprising twist of events, the fate of Apple Watch in the U.S. hangs in the balance as the Biden administration chooses not to intervene in the recent ban on Apple Watch imports. The International Trade Commission's (ITC) ruling, slated to take effect today, has thrown a shadow over the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2. With online sales already on pause since December 21 and in-store sales ceasing three days later, Apple is facing an uphill battle against patent infringement claims lodged by health tech company Masimo.

Apple's attempt to defy the ban is met with staunch resistance from Masimo, which stands firm on its patent infringement allegations. The U.S. Trade Representative's office, led by Ambassador Katherine Tai, announced the decision not to overturn the ITC's ruling, solidifying the ban on Apple Watch imports. Despite Apple's vigorous defense, the company finds itself entangled in a legal web, challenging the exclusion order and appealing the decision with the Federal Circuit court.

Apple emphasized the groundbreaking healthcare features of its Watch, expressing strong disagreement with the USITC decision. The tech giant vows to explore all avenues to swiftly return the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 to its U.S. customer base.

Masimo's founder and CEO, Joe Kiani, lauded the USITC ruling as a triumph for justice, signaling that even tech behemoths are not above the law. In a statement, Kiani affirmed the company's commitment to holding Apple accountable for alleged patent infringement, a narrative echoed in recent interviews. The legal skirmish revolves around a pulse oximetry sensor introduced in the Watch Series 6 in 2020, with Masimo also accusing Apple of employee poaching to integrate the technology into its smartwatch lineup.

As the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 remain temporarily barred in the U.S., the global audience continues to have access to these models. The Watch SE, a more budget-friendly alternative without the contentious sensor technology, continues to be available in the States. Apple's legal saga unfolds on multiple fronts, setting the stage for a gripping tech courtroom drama. Stay tuned for updates as the tech giant navigates this unexpected legal labyrinth, striving to reclaim its standing in the competitive smartwatch landscape.

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