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Apple appeals Apple Watch ban, citing 'irreparable harm' to its business

Apple Watch Ultra

Apple has filed an "emergency motion" for an appeal against the US import ban on the Apple Watch, and pressed for an interim stay on the ruling.

Following the White House's decision not to veto the United States International Trade Commission's (USITC) ban on importing Apple Watch to the US, Apple has now filed an appeal that claims the ban will cause it to "suffer irreparable harm if the Orders are left in place." It wants the ban lifted, and separately also asks that it be dropped while the appeal is being considered.

It's an "emergency motion for an immediate interim stay," because the USITC "has stated it will require over two weeks to respond."

"Importantly," continues the filing, "the Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is scheduled to decide on January 12, 2024 whether a redesigned version of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2... falls outside the scope of the Commission's remedial orders."

"At a minimum," says Apple, "the Court should grant a stay long enough for Customs to make this decision."

The ban was imposed by the USITC as a result of the case brought against Apple by Masimo, which claims Apple effectively stole its pulse oximetry technology.

In the public version of the appeal filing (see below), there are two redacted segments regarding a redesign. While that redaction means there are no details about a redesign, it does mean that Apple has implemented some form of update that it believes mean it no longer uses the patents and technology at the center of the dispute.

Apple's argument for lifting the ban

In terms of legal issues, Apple's filing argues both that there is precedent for such an interim lifting of the ban, and that there is specific reason to allow it.

"Barring the accused Apple Watches from importation and sale ill-serves the public," says Apple, "as it deprives consumers of a product with potentially lifesaving features, researchers of a critical tool for medical research, and the broader economy of a device that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and fosters innovation."

"Finally, Masimo will not suffer any cognizable harm, as it does not sell a competing product in the United States in any meaningful quantities (if at all)," continues Apple's filing. "Tellingly, the Commission's decision acknowledged that Masimo would not suffer any significant monetary harm from a stay."

Apple has also commented to Reuters about the filing, saying it is working to resume sales of the Apple Watch.

"We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order," a spokesperson said in a statement, "and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible."