Apple wins bid in US appeals court to pause Apple Watch ban

Medical-technology company Masimo accuses Apple of hiring away its employees and stealing its pulse oximetry technology to incorporate it into smartwatches

An Apple smartwatch is displayed at an Apple store in New York. Reuters
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Apple scored a victory on Wednesday when a US appeals court paused a government commission's import ban on some of the company's popular smartwatches following a patent dispute with medical-technology firm Masimo.

The tech company had filed an emergency request for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the order after appealing the International Trade Commission's decision that said it had infringed on Masimo's patents.

Representatives for Apple and Masimo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Masimo shares were down almost 5 per cent following the decision and Apple shares were almost flat.

In a four-paragraph ruling, the appeals court said it would halt the ban while it considers Apple's motion for a longer-term pause during the appeals process. The court gave the ITC until January 10 to respond to Apple's request.

US President Joe Biden's administration declined to veto the ban on Tuesday, allowing it to take effect. Apple asked for a pause of the ban later that day.

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

The ITC banned imports and sales of Apple Watches with technology for reading blood-oxygen levels. Apple has included a pulse oximeter feature in its smartwatches starting with its Series 6 model in 2020.

Apple has paused sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US, though the watches have remained available at other retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Costco and Walmart.

The ban does not affect the Apple Watch SE, a less-expensive model without a pulse oximeter. Previously sold watches also will not be affected by the ban.

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

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.

Updated: December 28, 2023, 4:54 AM