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Apple Watch Faces Renewed Import Ban in the US Amid Ongoing Patent Dispute

In a recent development, a federal appeals court has rejected Apple’s request to temporarily lift the ban on imports of certain advanced models of the Apple Watch. The ban, initiated by a US International Trade Commission (USITC) ruling last month, prohibits the importation of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, citing patent violations registered by California-based company Masimo.

Despite Apple’s appeal to halt the ban while the legal process unfolds, the court ruling on Wednesday means that the import restrictions will be in effect throughout the appeals process. The USITC had initially barred the import of Apple’s advanced smartwatches, asserting that the pulse oximeter feature, which measures blood oxygen concentration, infringed on Masimo’s patent.

Apple, however, has devised a workaround to continue sales in the United States. Recently receiving approval from US Customs and Border Protection, the tech giant will import a redesigned version of its most advanced watches. Notably, these redesigned models will lack the controversial pulse oximeter function, allowing Apple to comply with the patent dispute while maintaining sales.

Starting Thursday, Apple will sell the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 without the pulse oximeter feature, both in stores and online. The company assured that customers who had previously purchased models with the pulse oximeter would not be affected by the ban.

In response to the court’s decision, Apple expressed disagreement with the USITC ruling and emphasized the ongoing appeal process, hoping for a reversal by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani celebrated the end of the temporary pause on the ban, describing it as “a victory for the integrity of the American patent system and the safety of people relying on pulse oximetry.” The legal battle between Apple and Masimo underscores the complex intersection of technology and intellectual property rights in the ever-evolving landscape of consumer electronics.