Apple has resumed selling its flagship smartwatches in the US after a federal court granted a temporary pause on a ban imposed by the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ban, which was supposed to take effect on December 15, 2023, affected some of the most popular models of the Apple Watch, including the Series 6 and the SE. The court’s decision allows Apple to continue selling these models until the final resolution of the case, which is expected in early 2024.
Background on Apple Watch Ban
The ban on Apple Watch sales was the result of a patent infringement dispute between Apple and a small health technology company called Masimo. Masimo claimed that Apple had copied its technology for measuring blood oxygen levels and heart rate, which are featured in the Apple Watch Series 6. Masimo also accused Apple of poaching its employees and using its trade secrets.
In June 2023, the ITC ruled in favor of Masimo and issued a limited exclusion order that barred Apple from importing or selling any Apple Watch models that infringed Masimo’s patents. The order covered the Apple Watch Series 6, the SE, and some older models. Apple appealed the decision and asked the court to stay the ban pending the appeal.
Apple Watch Sales Resume
On December 27, 2023, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted Apple’s request and temporarily paused the ban until it reviewed the case. The court said that Apple had shown a “likelihood of success” on its appeal and that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to Apple and the public interest.
The court’s order means that Apple can resume selling its flagship smartwatches in the US, at least for the time being. The order applies to the Apple Watch Series 6 and the SE, which are the latest and most advanced models of the Apple Watch. These models offer features such as blood oxygen monitoring, electrocardiogram (ECG), fall detection, and emergency calling.
The court’s order does not affect the older models of the Apple Watch, such as the Series 3 and the Series 5, which were not included in the ban. However, Apple has discontinued selling these models in the US, as it focuses on its newer products.
The court’s order is not the final word on the case, as the appeal process is still ongoing. The court has scheduled oral arguments for February 2024, and a final decision is expected in the following months.
Impact on Apple and Consumers
The court’s order is a relief for Apple, as it allows it to continue selling its popular watch models in the US, which is its largest and most profitable market. The Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch in the world, and it accounts for a significant portion of Apple’s revenue and growth. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple sold 14.3 million units of the Apple Watch in the third quarter of 2023, capturing a 40% market share.
The court’s order is also good news for consumers, as it allows them to purchase the Apple Watch models that offer the most advanced features and functions. The Apple Watch Series 6 and the SE are widely praised for their health and fitness capabilities, as well as their design and performance. The Apple Watch Series 6, in particular, is the first smartwatch to offer blood oxygen monitoring, which can help detect conditions such as COVID-19, sleep apnea, and asthma.
The court’s order, however, does not guarantee that Apple will ultimately prevail in the case, as the appeal process is still uncertain. If the court reverses the order and upholds the ban, Apple may have to stop selling its flagship smartwatches in the US again or find a way to settle the dispute with Masimo. Either way, the outcome of the case could significantly impact the future of the Apple Watch and the smartwatch industry.