Apple could soon be banned from importing some of its smartwatches into the U.S., after the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled last week that the devices infringed on a medical technology company’s patent rights.
Here’s what to know about the potential Apple Watch ban:
When could a ban go into effect?
Based on the ruling, the import ban would go into effect the day after Christmas. However, several factors could affect this timeline.
A years-long dispute between Masimo and Apple
The medical technology company Masimo originally sued Apple in federal court in 2020, accusing the iPhone-maker of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets related to its light-based technology for measuring blood-oxygen levels.
Masimo also sued Apple for patent infringement at the ITC in 2021 over the Apple Watch Series 6, which was the first to feature blood-oxygen monitoring capabilities.
Apple, in turn, sued Masimo in 2022, accusing the company of copying its technology.
While the federal case against Apple ultimately ended in a mistrial in May, an ITC judge ruled in favor of Masimo in January, prompting the full commission to take up the dispute.
ITC upholds ruling against Apple, tees up import ban
The ITC upheld the January decision last week, finding that Apple had infringed on Masimo’s patent rights and setting the stage for an import ban.
Could the ban be stopped?
Several factors could delay or prevent the ban from going into effect.
The Biden administration has 60 days to decide whether to veto the import ban or allow it to go into effect Dec. 26.
Apple could also appeal the decision following the 60-day review period.
Additional legal challenges over Apple Watches
Apple has faced other legal challenges over the technology used in its smartwatches.
The ITC ruled last December that the company had infringed on wearable heart monitoring technology patented by California startup AliveCor.
The ruling similarly prompted an import ban, which the Biden administration declined to veto in February.
However, the ban remains on hold amid an ongoing dispute between the two companies at the Commerce Department’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board.