Apple has lost a bid to delay an impending Apple Watch import ban, according to an International Trade Commission filing, meaning only a last-minute White House intervention can prevent a pause in sales of some of the devices in the U.S.
Apple said earlier this week it will stop selling two Apple Watch models released this year, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, on its website starting Thursday, and in Apple stores starting after Sunday. The company will still sell older models.
The move is in response to orders issued by the ITC in October that found that the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor had infringed on intellectual property from Masimo, a medical technology company that sells to hospitals.
On Wednesday, the ITC denied Apple’s motion to stay while the original decision was being appealed, which would have allowed Apple to continue selling the devices.
The decision means Apple is closer to being prevented from selling one of its most important products in its largest market during the busiest time of the year for Apple sales. Previously imported Apple Watches can still be sold if retailers have them in stock.
Apple shares are down less than 1% since the company announced its plans to pause sales on Monday. Shares were flat in extended trading Wednesday.
President Joe Biden can still veto the ban but has not given an indication that he will.
“We’re tracking this case and the Dec. 25 deadline,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.
The U.S. Trade Representative “has the President’s delegated authority to make these determinations,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Ambassador Katherine Tai is “carefully considering all of the factors in this case.”
In addition to the infringement claims, Masimo CEO Joe Kiani has accused Apple of misleading his company by engaging in acquisition and partnership talks before systematically poaching his technical staff.
Kiani told CNBC on Monday that Apple had not reached out to settle.
“I don’t care that much about the Apple leadership, given about what I know about how they run the company,” Kiani said. “I still extended the olive branch and offered to work with them for the betterment of people and our shareholders, and not even a call.”
An Apple representative declined to comment. A company spokesperson previously told CNBC that Apple was taking “all measures” to return the product to the market in the U.S.
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