In a significant legal victory, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) successfully obtained a temporary halt to a government commission’s import ban on certain Apple smartwatches, as ruled by a U.S. appeals court. The decision followed a patent dispute with medical technology firm Masimo, which had accused Apple of patent infringement related to pulse oximetry technology.
Apple swiftly filed an emergency request with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to suspend the import ban after challenging the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) finding that it had violated Masimo’s patents. The pause granted by the appeals court counters the U.S. President Joe Biden administration’s earlier decision not to veto the ban on December 26, allowing it to take effect.
Masimo’s allegations against Apple include accusations of hiring away employees, stealing pulse oximetry technology, and incorporating it into Apple Watches. The ITC had imposed restrictions on imports and sales of Apple Watches equipped with blood-oxygen level reading technology, affecting models from the Series 9 and Ultra 2 lines. Apple responded by temporarily halting sales of these specific smartwatches in the U.S., although they remained available through other retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, and Walmart.
Notably, the ban does not extend to the Apple Watch SE, a more affordable model without a pulse oximeter, and previously sold watches remain unaffected. The legal dispute between the two companies has been ongoing, with a mistrial declared in a California federal court in May regarding Masimo’s allegations. Concurrently, Apple has countersued Masimo for patent infringement in a federal court in Delaware, characterizing Masimo’s legal actions as a strategic move to pave the way for its own competing smartwatch.
Despite these legal challenges, Apple’s wearables, home, and accessory business, inclusive of products like the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds, and others, generated an impressive $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023, according to a company report. The pause in the import ban allows Apple to continue its sales and defend its position in the ongoing legal proceedings.
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