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Apple Falls Short in Bid to Stop Watch Ban

Apple Watch

The federal government will not let Apple delay an upcoming ban on Apple Watch imports.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday (Dec. 20) denied the company’s appeal of an earlier ruling that would block sales of the two latest iterations of its smartwatch. That ban will likely go into effect on Christmas Day, barring intervention from the White House.

Apple had said earlier this week that it will cease sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.

That move came after the ITC ruled in October that watch’s blood oxygen sensor had infringed on intellectual property from medical technology firm Masimo.

Masimo had sued Apple in 2020, charging that the tech giant pilfered trade secrets connected to health monitoring technology and poached key staff.

Following the ITC ruling this year, Apple said that Masimo had “wrongly attempted to use the ITC to keep a potentially life-saving product from millions of U.S. consumers while making way for their own watch that copies Apple.”

The decision means Apple is closer to being prevented from selling one of its most important products in its largest market during the busiest time of the year for Apple sales. Previously imported Apple Watches can still be sold if retailers have them in stock.

Apple can still sell older models of the watch, and stores are allowed to sell watches already in stock. However, the ban, which applies to website and in-store sales, comes in the middle of the crucial holiday shopping season.

A report Thursday (Dec. 21) by CNBC notes that President Joe Biden has given no sign he will veto the ban.

“We’re tracking this case and the Dec. 25 deadline,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a news conference earlier this week.

Meanwhile Masimo CEO Joe Kiani told the network Apple had not reached out to settle.

“I don’t care that much about the Apple leadership, given what I know about how they run the company,” Kiani said. “I still extended the olive branch and offered to work with them for the betterment of people and our shareholders, and not even a call.”

The ITC ruling comes one day after reports that Apple was trying to get around the ban by reconfiguring the watches by changing the algorithm that measures the wearer’s blood oxygen level, a feature at the heart of the Masimo case.