ITC Wants Apple Watch Sales Ban Reinstated: 'Apple Presents a Weak and Unconvincing Case'
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today formally opposed Apple's motion for the Apple Watch sales ban to remain paused for the duration of Apple's appeal.
In a document filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, ITC lawyers said "Apple presents a weak and unconvincing case to invoke the extraordinary remedy of a stay pending appeal," adding that Apple's arguments "amount to little more than an indisputably adjudicated infringer requesting permission to continue infringing the asserted patents."
The court is accepting responses from other parties in support of the ITC's ruling until January 15, so the Apple Watch should remain available until early next week at a minimum.
In October, the ITC ruled that Apple Watch models with blood oxygen sensing infringed on patents owned by medical technology company Masimo, and ordered that the import and sale of these devices be banned in the U.S. as a result. The feature is available on the Apple Watch Series 6 and newer, excluding Apple Watch SE models.
Masimo has accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and poaching employees to develop its blood oxygen sensing functionality. Last month, Masimo said it was open to settlement talks, but Apple had reportedly not expressed any interest at the time.
In December, Apple briefly paused sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 across its U.S. retail stores and online store. After appealing the ITC's ruling with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Apple was granted a temporary stay, leading to the ban being paused and sales resuming for now.
Apple is reportedly working on software changes to address the alleged patent infringement, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is expected to rule on these changes later this week. However, Masimo believes that the Apple Watch's hardware design will have to change to become compliant, and the ITC also expressed skepticism.
"To the extent Apple relies on the soon-expected ruling from Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") as to whether certain redesigned Apple Watches infringe the Asserted Patents, those arguments are, at best, misplaced," ITC lawyers said in today's filing. "A favorable ruling to Apple has no bearing on Apple's alleged likelihood of success on the merits as to any raised issue, and instead would undermine Apple's 'irreparable harm' argument."
We have shared the ITC's full response as a PDF.