Apple faces a setback in the US as a federal appeals court has banned the sale of two smartwatch models, Series 9 and Ultra 2, due to an ongoing patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo. The court has reversed the earlier decision that allowed Apple to continue selling the watches while the legal proceedings unfolded. The ban also affects imports of the watches. The dispute involves allegations from Masimo and its spin-off Cercacor, claiming that Apple poached key staff and stole technology related to measuring blood oxygen levels. Apple plans to release watches without the disputed feature to comply with the ruling.

In October, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) found that Apple had violated some patent rights, leading to an order preventing certain imports and sales. The ban was temporarily halted pending the appeal, but the recent court decision reinstates restrictions on the sale and import of the affected Apple watches. The disputed feature, measuring blood oxygen levels, has been a standard component of most Apple watches since 2020, excluding the SE model. The ban comes into effect immediately, impacting the availability of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches.

Apple expressed strong disagreement with the ITC’s view that it violated patent rights and is pursuing an appeal. The company stated that it is taking steps to comply with the ruling while minimising disruption for customers. The legal battle highlights the challenges and consequences for major companies in patent disputes, emphasising the importance of respecting intellectual property rights. Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, sees the ruling as a reminder that even large and powerful companies must respect the intellectual rights of inventors and face consequences for patent infringement. Apple, currently dominating the global smartphone market, is navigating legal hurdles in a competitive landscape.