Apple has filed an appeal to the International Trade Commission (ITC) to reverse the ban on US sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, along with a request for an emergency stay on the ban until a decision is reached. The company is taking all measures to return the smartwatches to US store shelves. The ban goes into effect today, and Apple has started pulling smartwatches from its digital and physical storefronts. In today’s filing, Apple claims it will “suffer irreparable harm” if the ban continues. The Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scheduled to make a decision on Apple’s redesigned versions of the smartwatches on January 13.
The issue began when Apple infringed on blood oxygen saturation tracking technology patented by health tech firm Masimo. The ITC and Masimo agreed that this is a hardware issue involving the sensor, so software fixes wouldn’t cut it. As such, Apple is redesigning the sensors for the two smartwatch models. Masimo is pursuing legal action over the violations and even alleged that Apple poached employees with knowledge of blood oxygen monitoring. It’s still possible the two companies will come to a financial agreement, putting this issue to bed.
Consumers can still buy the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in other parts of the world, as the ban only impacts the US. They can also buy the watches from third-party retailers in the US until the stock dries up. However, they cannot purchase one of these smartwatches directly from Apple. Apple Watch sales account for a significant portion of Apple’s revenue, so when the company says the ban will cause “irreparable harm”, it isn’t kidding.