A federal appeals court has denied Apple’s motion to temporarily pause a ban on imports of advanced models of the Apple Watch and the ban will be reinstated on Thursday, according to a Wednesday court filing.
Apple had requested a stay on the ban while it appealed a US International Trade Commission ruling that went into effect last month. That ITC order prevented Apple from importing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, among other newer models, to the United States because they violate patents registered to another company.
Apple last month was granted an interim pause on the ban until a judge could rule on a longer stay that would last through the appeal process, which will likely take months.
Wednesday’s ruling means that the import ban will be in effect throughout the appeal.
However, Apple will have a workaround: The company earlier this month received approval from US Customs and Border Protection to continue importing a redesigned version of the most advanced Apple watches. The redesigned watches will not contain a pulse oximeter function, a medical scanner technology that measures the oxygen concentration in the blood stream and the feature that was at issue in the patent dispute.
Apple said it will begin selling Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 without the pulse oximeter feature in-stores and online starting on Thursday. When customers buy the redesigned watches, they will still see the Blood Oxygen icon, but when they click, it will say the feature is “no longer available.”
“Pending the appeal, Apple is taking steps to comply with the ruling while ensuring customers have access to Apple Watch with limited disruption,” the company said in a statement.
Customers who have already purchased an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 with the pulse oximeter feature will not be affected.
Apple Watch ban saga
The import ban stems from an October ITC ruling that the pulse oximeter feature in the advanced Apple Watch models violated a patent belonging to California company Masimo.
The ruling meant that Apple could no longer import the offending models to the United States, and the company began pulling them off of its shelves when the ban officially went into effect in December. Apple immediately appealed the ban.
However, Apple quickly restarted sales of the watches after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the ban, to allow time for a judge to consider a stay on the ban during the entire appeals process and as US Customs reviewed the company’s proposed redesign.
That temporary pause on the ban now ends on Thursday.
“Apple’s appeal is ongoing, and we believe the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should reverse the USITC’s decision,” the company said in its statement. “We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting orders.”
Masimo CEO Joe Kiani in a statement cheered the decision to end the temporary pause on the ban, calling it “a victory for the integrity of the American patent system and the safety of people relying on pulse oximetry.”