While Apple waits for President Biden's administration to make a decision about the ITC's Apple Watch ban, the company is working on a software update that may help avoid stopping sales for now.
Masimo began a lawsuit against Apple in 2020 alleging the Apple Watch pulse oximeter violated multiple patents held by the company. The case was presented to the US International Trade Commission in 2021 and resulted in a recommendation for an import ban.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on multiple fronts to avoid a ban, one of which involves a last-minute software update to circumvent the patents in question. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 will no longer be available from Apple's online store on December 21, followed by a complete cease of sales on December 25, unless the Biden administration vetos the ITC's decision before then.
Masimo argues that the patent violations could only be resolved with hardware alterations in a future Apple Watch model. Existing Apple Watch Series 6 and later models would need to be removed from sale, minus the Apple Watch SE.
However, Apple believes a software update could satisfy US Customs. The report calls it a "high-stakes engineering effort unlike any Apple has undertaken before."
Apple will have to move quickly to stop its flagship wearables from being removed from the US market. The critical portion of the holiday shopping season is over, so impacts from the ban won't be visible until fiscal Q2 earnings.