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Biden admin declines to veto ban on certain Apple Watch imports

The Biden administration declined to veto the ban on certain Apple Watch imports into the U.S., letting the ban officially take effect Tuesday.

On Oct. 26, the International Trade Commission (ITC) upheld a January ruling that sided with the medical technology company Masimo, which in 2021 sued Apple for patent infringement at the ITC over the Apple Watch Series 6.

Masimo accused the tech giant of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets related to the light-based technology for measuring blood-oxygen levels, which was first featured in the Apple Watch Series 6 smartwatch.

Masimo originally sued Apple in federal court in 2020, but the case ended in a mistrial in May. Apple also counter-sued Masimo, accusing the company of copying its technology.

The Biden administration had 60 days to decide whether to veto the import ban or to let it go into effect. On Tuesday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives issued a statement saying it would not intervene.

“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,” the statement read.

“After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023,” the statement continued.

Apple appealed the import ban to the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit and asked the court to lift the ban until federal officials could determine whether a redesigned model would still violate the ITC order.

In a statement to Nexstar earlier this month, Apple said it was taking steps to make sure the Apple Watch products would return to customers “as soon as possible,” if the ITC ban went into effect

“A Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature,” Apple said in a statement to Nexstar. “While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand.”

The company added that it “strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.”

“Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.”

As it currently stands, only the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models would be affected. The Apple Watch SE will still be available, according to the company, and other models that include the blood oxygen feature are not affected by the ban.

Updated at 3:13 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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