Apple wins bid to pause watch ban at US appeals court

Medical-technology firm Masimo has accused the tech giant of hiring away its employees and stealing its pulse oximetry technology

By Reuters

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Photo: AFP file
Photo: AFP file

Published: Wed 27 Dec 2023, 9:28 PM

Apple scored a victory on Wednesday as a US appeals court paused a government commission's import ban on some of its popular Apple smartwatches following a patent dispute with medical-technology firm Masimo.

The tech giant had filed an emergency request for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the order after appealing the US International Trade Commission's (ITC) decision that it had infringed Masimo's patents.

Representatives for Apple and Masimo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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US President Joe Biden's administration declined to veto the ban on December 26, allowing it to take effect. Apple asked for a pause of the ban later that day.

Pulse oximetry technology

Masimo has accused Apple of hiring away its employees, stealing its pulse oximetry technology and incorporating it into Apple Watches.

The ITC barred imports and sales of Apple Watches with technology for reading blood-oxygen levels. Apple has included a pulse oximeter feature in its smartwatches starting with its Series 6 model in 2020.

Apple has paused sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US, though the watches have remained available at other retailers including Amazon, Best Buy , Costco and Walmart.

The ban does not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model without a pulse oximeter. Previously sold watches also will not be affected by the ban.

A jury trial on Masimo's allegations against Apple in California federal court ended with a mistrial in May. Apple has separately sued Masimo for patent infringement in federal court in Delaware and called Masimo's legal actions a "maneuver to clear a path" for its own competing smartwatch.

Apple's wearables, home and accessory business, which includes the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds and other products, brought in $8.28 billion in revenue during the third quarter of 2023, according to a company report.

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