Biden Administration allows US trade tribunal’s ban on Apple Watch imports

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Written By Pinang Driod

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: New Apple Watches Ultra 2 are displayed during the ‘Wonderlust’ event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2023. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday declined to veto a government tribunal’s decision to ban imports of Apple (NASDAQ:) Watches based on a complaint from medical monitoring technology company Masimo (NASDAQ:).

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s order will go into effect on Dec. 26, barring imports and sales of Apple Watches that use patent-infringing technology for reading blood-oxygen levels. Apple has included the pulse oximeter feature in its smart watches starting with its Series 6 model in 2020.

“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 agency said in its decision.

Apple can appeal the ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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

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

A presidential administration has not vetoed an ITC ruling since 2013, when President Barack Obama’s administration overturned an import ban on Apple’s iPhones and iPads in the company’s patent dispute with Samsung (KS:).

Apple said on Dec. 18 that it would pause sales of its latest-edition Series 9 and Ultra 2 smart watches in anticipation of the ban.

The Biden administration in February chose not to veto a separate import ban on Apple Watches based on a patent-infringement complaint from medical technology company AliveCor. The ITC has placed the ban on hold for other reasons.

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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