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Apple Watch Sales to Resume, for Now

Apple resumed sales of its newest smartwatches on Thursday, a day after a federal appeals court temporarily reversed an earlier ban on their import and sale in the United States.

But the watches’ fate will ultimately depend on how a continuing legal fight plays out in federal court over the next few weeks.

The company paused sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in its flagship stores on Dec. 21 and at retail locations on Christmas Eve. The pause was the result of a patent case that Apple lost in October.

The ruling in that case became final on Tuesday, when President Biden’s administration declined to step in and reverse it. But on Wednesday, a federal appeals court ordered the government not to enforce it “until further notice” while the court considers Apple’s appeal.

Yes. The company said on Wednesday that it would restart retail sales of the two new watches at some Apple stores that day, and in more stores by Saturday. The two watches were also made available for sale again online on Thursday. Apple has not commented further on the matter.

The case against Apple before the U.S. International Trade Commission focuses on technology that some Apple watches use to detect a wearer’s pulse rate by measuring the percentage of oxygen in their blood.

The commission ruled in October that some models of Apple watches were infringing on patents held by two medical technology companies in California, Masimo and Cercacor Laboratories. It ordered Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 after Christmas.

The Biden administration had 60 days to decide whether to veto the commission’s ruling. On Tuesday, it said it had chosen not to, making the ruling final.

But on Wednesday, the federal appeals court granted a fresh request from Apple to pause enforcement of the ruling as the appeals process plays out. It gave the commission until Jan. 10 to respond to Apple’s request for a further delay in enforcing the ban.

No, although the legal battle will ultimately determine whether sales, service and repairs of Apple’s newest watches continue over the long term.

The battle may hinge partly on a proposed redesign of the two watches that Apple has submitted to the United States customs authorities for approval.

The ban that was temporarily paused on Wednesday applied to several other models that use the same pulse-monitoring technology, including the Apple Watch Series 6, 7 and 8, and all models of the Apple Watch Ultra. But those models are not currently sold at Apple stores or on the company’s website. (The ban did not apply to the Apple Watch SE.)

The ruling only affected sales in the United States.

Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.


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