US Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai has decided “not to reverse” the ban on sale and import of Apple watches.
Tai said that following “careful consultations” the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) decision became final on 26 December 2023.
The ban was ordered by the ITC on 26 October, after it found that Apple has infringed two patents owned by the US-based companies Masimo and Cercacor Laboratories.
The order was pending for a 60-day review period, which ended on 25 December, to receive the US President’s approval.
In a statement, the USTR said: “Since 2005, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has been delegated the President’s authority under Section 337 of the Trade Act of 1930 to review the ITC’s decision for a 60-day period.
“After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on 26 December 2023.”
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Earlier this month, Apple announced taking ‘pre-emptive’ action to cease the sale of some of its smartwatches, including Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, in the US.
Sale of these smartwatches were halted from 21 December on online platforms and from 24 December across US retail stores.
However, sales of these watches outside of the US, in other foreign markets remained unaffected.
The California, US-based medical technology company Masimo had accused Apple of poaching its employees and pulse oximeter technology, which is used for measuring oxygen levels in the blood.
Following the USTR’s latest decision to continue ITC’s ban, Apple has reportedly filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to halt the ban.
According to a Reuters report, the tech giant has requested a pause on the ban at least until the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decides whether the redesigned versions of Apple watches infringe Masimo’s patents or not.
A decision from the CBP is expected to come by 12 January.
In a statement cited by Reuters, Apple said: “We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible.”
In response to Apple’s emergency request, the US Court of Appeals has agreed to temporarily lift the ITC’s import and sale ban from 27 December.
According to the Court, it would lift the ban and consider Apple’s motion for a longer-term pause during the appeals process.
The Court order further states: “While the interim stay is in effect, Apple must comply with the same bond requirements set forth by the Commission in Remedial Orders governing Presidential Review Period.
“The Commission’s request for a five-day extension, from 5 to 10 January 2024 is granted. Opposition to the motion to stay pending appeal is due no later than 10 January 2024, and any reply in support is due no later than 15 January 2024.”
According to Bloomberg’s report, Apple will resume the sale of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches with immediate effect across its 270 retail locations in the US.
From 30 December, the sale of watches will commence at remaining locations across the country.