Not even Apple is immune to international trade regulations.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an order that could prohibit Apple from importing Apple Watches to the United States, according to Reuters. The devices have been manufactured in China and Vietnam in recent years.
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Why Apple Watch imports may be banned in the U.S.
You may be wondering how could Apple, arguably the most prominent tech company in the U.S., could find itself in such a sticky situation? Allow us to break down why the popular wearable from the Cupertino-based tech giant is potentially in jeopardy.
1. Infringement of a medical tech company
At the root of all this is a medical tech company called Masimo. In January, a U.S. judge ruled in Masimo’s favor regarding Apple’s infringement on a Masimo patent for “light-based pulse oximetry functionality and components,” according to a Reuters report. The layman’s terms, this feature is blood-oxygen tracking, which was introduced alongside the Apple Watch Series 6 launch.
This actually isn’t the first time Apple has been found in violation of another company’s patents, specifically with Apple Watch. Last December, the ITC ruled that Apple infringed upon patents held by a company called AliveCor with the Apple Watch’s electrocardiogram (ECG) tech, though that particular ban order is currently on hold.
2. Failure of a presidential veto
Obviously, Apple’s alleged wrongdoing is the chief reason why Apple Watch imports may be banned. There is a way out for Apple, though it’s not a dependable one.
According to Reuters, the Biden administration has 60 days to issue a veto to the import ban order. However, this rarely happens, and so far, there’s no indication that it will occur this time. Apple can only cross its fingers and hope for the best on that front.
3. A rejection of Apple’s appeal
That said, there is one more potential out for Apple in this case. Once that 60-day review period is over, Apple is free to file an appeal, as is the norm with legal cases like this.
But obviously, it’s way too early to tell if Apple’s appeal (and the company said it will continue efforts to appeal in a statement to Reuters) will work. It’s also impossible to know, at this moment, which Apple Watch models would be impacted by this ban order if it does go through. These things take time.
In the meantime, Apple should maybe find a way to implement new features without allegedly infringing on other company’s patents.