The Biden Administration has decided not to overturn a recent ruling that prohibits Apple from selling certain models of the Apple Watch in the United States. The ruling, issued by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) in October, found that Apple had infringed on two patents held by medical-technology company Masimo and its sister company Ceracor Laboratories. The patents in question relate to sensors that measure blood-oxygen levels. As a result, the ban affects both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.
The review of this finding was under the purview of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Earlier today, her office released a statement announcing that, after careful consultations, Tai has decided to uphold the ITC determination. The ban will go into effect on Tuesday.
In anticipation of Tai's final ruling, Apple had already discontinued the sale of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches last week. On Apple.com, both models are now marked as "currently unavailable."
Apple expressed strong disagreement with the ITC decision and the resulting exclusion order. In a statement issued this morning, they stated their intention to take all necessary measures to make the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches available to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible. Apple has filed an appeal of the ITC ruling with the Federal Circuit court, which has jurisdiction over ITC cases.
Apple maintains that their watches do not utilize any of Masimo's technology. Furthermore, they assert that Masimo is leveraging litigation as a tactic to promote their own line of smartwatches. In fact, in October 2022, Apple themselves filed patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo, claiming that they had copied patented features of the Apple Watch.
It should be noted that the ITC order does not impact watches that are already in use. Therefore, Apple Watch SE models are still available for purchase both online and in stores.
Apple is actively exploring various legal and technical options in order to resume the sale of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches. They have also submitted a proposed redesign of both models to seek regulatory approval in the United States.
As news of the ban broke, Apple's shares experienced a slight decline on Tuesday, with a 0.3% decrease to $193.04.