Apple resuming watch sales in U.S. after court pauses ban

Apple watches on display at the Apple Store in Grand Central Station, in New York City, earlier this month. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Apple won a temporary pause Wednesday on the U.S. International Trade Commission’s decision to ban sales of Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models in the United States.

Why it matters: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s interim order prompted Apple to announce that it would resume selling the wearables in stores around the country on Wednesday and online from 3pm Thursday ET as the tech giant continues to appeal the ban.

  • Apple is the world’s largest smartwatch seller, with its Apple Watch devices accounting for nearly a third of all smartwatch purchases across the globe last year, per Counterpoint Research.

Driving the news: Apple filed an emergency appeal Tuesday against the USITC’s decision that it had infringed two patents owned by Masimo Corporation and Cercacor Laboratories, which the commission said became final on Dec. 26.

  • The tech giant suspended U.S. sales of the two impacted Apple Watches before the order took effect, pulling them from its website on Dec. 21 and from store shelves on Dec. 24.
  • Other retailers may still sell the smartwatches, though stock will not be replenished until a ruling is made in the patent case as Apple cannot currently import the two Watch models to the U.S.

Context: In October, the USITC ruled in favor of Masimo, a medical device company that also produces fitness-tracking smartwatches. The company claimed that Apple’s blood oxygen sensor included with some Watch models infringed Masimo’s intellectual property.

What we’re watching: The exclusion order enforcement branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is due to decide on Jan. 12 whether Apple’s proposed redesigns of the affected watches infringe on Masimo’s patents, as noted in Apple’s appeal filing.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is considering Apple’s request to stay the order during its appeal.

  • The company expects the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to hear its motion as soon as Jan. 15 for a stay for the entire period during which it is appealing the case.

What they’re saying: We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” Apple said in a statement Wednesday.

  • “Apple’s teams have worked tirelessly over many years to develop technology that empowers users with industry-leading health, wellness and safety features and we are pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal.”
  • Representatives from Masimo declined to comment and those for the USITC did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comment from Apple. Shauneen Miranda contributed reporting.

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Republican Presidential candidate former President Trump during a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada, earlier this month. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) (R) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) hold a news conference in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill on December 5, 2023 in Washington, DC.
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Driving the news: Hunter Biden said earlier this month he would defy a subpoena and not sit for a closed-door deposition, prompting House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) to announce they would begin contempt of Congress proceedings against the president’s son.

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