Biden administration allows ban on some Apple Watch imports to take hold

Apple stopping some Apple Watch sales


Apple stopping some Apple Watch sales over patent dispute

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The Biden administration let stand on Tuesday the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ban of imports of Apple Watches stemming from a patent dispute over the devices’ blood oxygen monitor. The decision goes into effect Tuesday.

The technology giant said last week it was “preemptively taking steps to comply” in case the ITC ruling held up, by halting sales of the devices in focus. The pause included the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. 

The legal dispute stems from the blood oxygen feature in the devices, which enables Apple Watch users to measure the level of oxygen in their blood. Low blood oxygen levels can lead to serious health problems, according to Cleveland Clinic. 

Apple’s decision came after the ITC ruled that the tech giant had illegally used blood oxygen technology from Masimo, a medical tech company, in the devices and ordered Apple to stop importing them.

Apple said in a statement Tuesday that, “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 can appeal the ban to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Masimo didn’t immediately return requests from CBS News for comment.

While a presidential panel reviewed the ITC’s order, Apple preemptively pulled the devices in case the panel upheld the decision. 

“After careful consultations, Ambassador [Katherine] Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023,” the U.S. Trade Representative said in a Tuesday statement.

Apple began including the pulse oximeter feature in its smart watches with its Series 6 model in 2020.

The ban doesn’t cover the less costly Apple Watch SE, or other previously sold watches.

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