Bad news for U.S.-based Apple fans this week — the latest models of the Apple Watch can’t be imported stateside. The Federal Appeals Court denied Apple’s request to temporarily stop the ban until the appeal process is completed. By Thursday, the import ban will be in full swing again. This decision is the latest development in an ongoing patent dispute.
Apple’s appeal came after the company lost an initial ruling from the International Trade Commission last month. The ITC determined that Apple’s advanced watch models — the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 — were violating patents registered by another company.
The time-limited reprieve that Apple enjoyed until this week was just a short-term breather. This was until a judge could give a verdict on a longer stay, which would cover the entire appeal process. But with Wednesday’s ruling, the import ban is back in action and will persist for the duration of the appeal.
For those fretting over how to get their hands on the latest Apple Watch, there’s a silver lining. Apple got clearance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection earlier this month to sidestep the ban. What’s the catch? It involves importing a reworked version of its advanced watches, without the one feature that caused all this ruckus.
The pulse oximeter function, which measures oxygen concentration in the blood, is the feature in contention in the patent dispute. Therefore, the redesigned Apple watches will not include it.
This is just another chapter in the ongoing Apple Watch saga. The root of it all is a ruling from October by the ITC, stating that the pulse oximeter in the advanced Apple Watch models violated a patent that belongs to the California-based company, Masimo. Consequently, Apple was banned from bringing the affected models into the U.S. They promptly appealed this ban.
A momentary relief was granted when the appeals court put a hold on the ban, giving a judge the time to consider a stay. It also allowed U.S. Customs to review Apple’s redesigned proposal. This temporary pause ends on Thursday. Now Apple must make the call on whether to import the approved, redesigned watches while the appeal process is still underway.