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Apple Wins Legal Victory as Court Lifts Watch Ban

Apple Watch

Apple can resume selling its latest smartwatches in spite of a recent import ban.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday (Dec. 27) paused that ban, CNBC reported, allowing the tech giant to once again sell its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches.

The ban went into place last week following a ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) order that found the blood oxygen sensor in the devices had infringed on intellectual property from medical technology firm Masimo.

“The motion for an interim stay is granted to the extent that the Remedial Orders are temporarily stayed,” a court filing Wednesday said, per CNBC.

Masimo had sued Apple in 2020, claiming the company had stolen trade secrets associated with health monitoring technology and poached important staff members.

Following the ITC’s initial ruling in October, 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.”

Apple had appealed that ruling, but the ITC last week denied that request, thus halting imports and future sales of the newest watches. Previously imported Apple Watches can be sold if retailers still have them in stock. The ban also does not affect older versions of the watch, which do not include the disputed blood-oxygen sensor.

With the ITC refusing to lift the ban, Apple had hoped for the White House to overrule the agency. However, the administration — personified here by the U.S. Trade Representative — declined to intervene earlier this week.

The CNBC report notes that Apple Watch sales are part of the company’s wearables business, which recorded $39.8 billion in sales in Apple’s fiscal 2023.

That coincides with a growing interest — and use of — among consumers in connected devices that monitor the “progress of everything, from the number of steps walked to vital signs to reminders about prescriptions,” PYMNTS wrote earlier this year.

Research has found that a large percentage of consumers use digital channels to track their health data on both a daily (26%) and weekly basis (11%).