Apple was temporarily prohibited from selling its latest Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the United States.
This development followed a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) over a patent infringement issue.
The ITC found that Apple infringed on patents held by Masimo, a medical device company specializing in pulse oximetry technology.
This technology is a crucial feature in the latest Apple Watches, enabling them to measure blood oxygen levels.
The ban, which officially took effect on December 26, wasn't overturned by President Joe Biden's administration despite a potential veto option.
Apple responded swiftly, removing the affected models from its website and store shelves.
In the same week, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted an interim stay on the sales and import ban imposed on the two Apple models.
This effectively paused the ban until U.S. Customs can decide on changes that Apple is making to the Apple Watch to circumvent the infringing patents.
The decision is expected by January 12, 2024.
Legal and Market Implications
This ban presents a major challenge for Apple, impacting its sales strategy and market presence in the U.S.
However, the decision only affects Apple's direct sales within the U.S., allowing third-party retailers like Best Buy and Target to continue selling their existing stock.
However, the ban includes a stop on importing any devices featuring the contested technology, a significant hurdle for Apple's supply chain.
Apple has launched a robust legal and technical response.
The company filed an appeal to the Federal Circuit court and sought a temporary stay on the ban until January 12, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection will review proposed redesigned versions of the affected models.
The details of these redesigns remain undisclosed, but they indicate Apple's determination to overcome the legal challenges.