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Apple Files An Appeal After The Biden Administration Approves The US Import Restriction On Watches

Apple Files An Appeal After The Biden Administration Approves The US Import Restriction On Watches
Following the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden's decision to not override a federal tribunal's decision to prohibit the importation of its watches due to a complaint by the medical monitoring technology business Masimo, Apple has launched an appeal.
Additionally, the internet giant requested an urgent suspension to the ban from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Tuesday.
It requested that the Federal Circuit halt the prohibition while the court reviews Apple's motion, and to do so at least until U.S. Customs and Border Protection determines if redesigned watches violate Masimo's patents. Apple stated that the customs office must make a decision by January 12.
Masimo has charged Apple with stealing its pulse oximetry technology, hiring away its staff, and putting it into the well-known Apple Watch.
An order from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) prohibits the sale and import of Apple Watches equipped with blood-oxygen level-reading technology. Beginning with the 2020 Series 6 model, Apple has integrated a pulse oximeter function into its smart watch lineup.
After careful consideration, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai chose not to revoke the prohibition; the ITC's decision became final on December 26, the Trade Representative's office announced on Tuesday.
Apple has challenged the prohibition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, according to a representative for the firm.
"We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible," Apple said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a court filing on Tuesday, the ITC opposed Apple's plea for the Federal Circuit to postpone the ban, having last week denied Apple's request to pause the restriction while the appeal was pending.
The ITC ruling was hailed by a Masimo representative as "a win for the integrity of the U.S. patent system, and ultimately American consumers."
Companies often resolve these kind of issues, but according to intellectual property lawyer Nicholas Matich of McKool Smith, Apple might believe it can either develop a way around the patents or take out the infringing functionality.
"There's nothing legally extraordinary about the ITC issuing an exclusion order," Matich said. "What's extraordinary here is that the product at issue is high profile and that Apple has chosen to live with the ITC order rather than settle."
According to a note from Stifel analysts, their litigation specialist projected that an Apple appeal may push out the "final" ITC case ruling by around a year.
Since last week, Apple has suspended sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US; but, as of Tuesday, the devices are still accessible from other stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart.
The less costly Apple Watch SE model is unaffected by the prohibition and will still be available for purchase. The restriction will not apply to watches that have already been sold.
In May, a jury trial in federal court in California concerning Masimo's accusations resulted in a mistrial.
Apple has filed a new lawsuit against Masimo in federal court in Delaware for patent infringement. Apple refers to Masimo's legal actions as a "manoeuvre to clear a path" for its own rival smart watch.
Since 2013, when the administration of President Barack Obama reversed an import ban on Apple's iPhones and iPads due to the company's patent dispute with Samsung, no presidential administration has vetoed an ITC verdict.
In February, the Biden administration declined to veto a separate import ban on Apple Watches due to a complaint from the medical technology company AliveCor over patent infringement. For other reasons, the ITC has put the prohibition on hold.
As to a company report, Apple's wearables, home, and accessories division, which encompasses the Apple Watch, AirPods earbuds, and other items, generated $8.28 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2023.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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