Apple Faces Import Ban on Latest Apple Watch Models Due to Patent Battle

Apple Watch Import Ban Visualized

The U.S. International Trade Commission has recommended a ban on certain Apple Watch models, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, due to a patent infringement complaint by Masimo. Apple is taking preemptive steps to comply, suspending sales of these models in the U.S., and is awaiting a presidential review of the decision.

December 19, 2023

Apple’s found itself stuck in a legal quicksand that’s put the brakes on sales of its latest Apple Watch, across the country.

This winding court drama spotlights how intellectual property disputes, cutthroat competition, and consumer access to new technology often collide.

What Lit the Fuse

At the core of this patent throwdown lies medical device outfit Masimo, which cooks up patient monitoring doodads measuring key health stats.

Masimo alleges Apple helped itself to Masimo trade secrets and trampled on patents related to using infrared light to track blood oxygen levels – a marquee feature of recent Apple Watches.

Specifically, Masimo claims certain Apple Watches violate patents around estimating blood oxygen saturation.

This October, the US International Trade Commission agreed Apple infringed on two Masimo patents.

Cue the import ban on Apple’s Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches, set to drop December 25.

How Apple’s Responding and Potential Impacts to Its Smartwatch Mojo

To comply, Apple will yank Series 9 and Ultra 2 models from its website on December 21.

Remaining inventory got pulled from stores right before the holiday. Still, Apple contends the “unfounded” ruling merits appeal.

This import ban could take a bite out of Apple’s booming smartwatch bucks during prime holiday shopping. But analysts bet minimal damage to Apple’s bottom line this quarter.

Get this – just last quarter, Apple’s wearables like AirPods and Watches raked in a whopping $8.28 billion.

Latest on Settlement Efforts and Apple’s Appeal Attempt

Despite Masimo’s “hey, we’re open to talking” vibe, negotiations remain chilled out.

Meanwhile, Apple swiftly filed an appeal to overturn the ban. But legal eagles say the glacial appeals process rarely halts this kind of import block quickly.

What This Means for the Tech Biz

Stepping back, the legal cage match shows how intellectual property disputes can majorly disrupt even mammoths like Apple.

The outcome could shape product design and innovation across the whole industry. For average gadget-loving Joes and Janes, it directly impacts getting our hands on Apple’s leading-edge health tracking wearables.

With appeals pending, Apple faces profit-blocking headaches rolling out its latest smartwatch iteration.

But however this shakes out, expect wide ripples given the industry big wheels tracking each play in this landmark patent fight.