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Apple Watch Import Ban Due to ‘Patent Infringement’

The U.S. government has upheld the decision by the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban the import of a certain model of the Apple Watch series over patent infringement disputes on the 26th (local time). Apple has immediately appealed against the ITC’s decision.

As of today, Apple is unable to import certain models of the Apple Watch into the U.S. due to the patent infringement dispute. The Apple Watch is produced in regions outside the U.S. including China. Essentially, this has resulted in a sales ban within the U.S.

In October, the ITC ordered a ban on the import of Apple Watches claiming that Apple had infringed on the patent for blood oxygen measurement technology owned by medical technology company Masimo. Following a two-month review by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), President Joe Biden confirmed the import ban based on the review. Masimo had sued Apple for patent infringement when the Apple Watch Series 6 was released in 2020.

As a result, sales of the newly released Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 which were launched in September will be halted. Apple stopped online sales on the 21st before the government decision and halted in-store sales on the 25th. However, the sale of the budget model Apple Watch SE which does not include the blood oxygen measurement feature will continue.

Apple immediately appealed to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In a statement, Apple expressed strong opposition to the import ban stating “We will take all measures to return the Apple Watch to consumers.” The company also claimed that it would suffer damages of $3 trillion (approximately KRW 3,882 trillion) due to the sales halt of the said models. On the other hand, JP Morgan estimated the impact of the Apple Watch import ban on Apple’s revenue at around $5 billion (approximately KRW 6.4695 trillion).

In addition, Apple submitted a redesigned version of the model to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in an attempt to resolve the patent infringement issue. The company also requested the court to temporarily suspend the import ban during the review period for the redesigned version which is expected to continue until January 12th next year.

Meanwhile, market research firm TrendForce forecasted the global smartwatch market shipments to reach 130 million units this year. Apple and Samsung Electronics have market shares of 32% and 10%, respectively. If the ban on Apple imports continues in the U.S., which is the largest market, Samsung Electronics may benefit from this.

By. Soo-Yeon Oh

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