Apple (AAPL) Halts Smartwatch Sales Ban Amid Patent Dispute

Apple AAPL obtained a temporary reprieve from a U.S. appeals court, allowing the iPhone maker to resume sales of its flagship smartwatches.

This decision follows an import ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in a patent dispute with Masimo MASI.

The ITC had ruled that Apple's smartwatches infringed on Masimo's patents related to medical monitoring technology. The ban specifically targeted Apple Watches featuring technology for reading blood-oxygen levels, affecting models starting with the Series 6 in 2020.

While the court's decision provides a short-term relief for Apple, a final resolution could have significant financial implications for both companies.

Apart from technology theft allegations, the legal battle also revolves around employee poaching and clearing the path for smartwatch offerings.

Apple Inc. Price and Consensus


Apple Inc. Price and Consensus

Apple Inc. price-consensus-chart | Apple Inc. Quote


Apple is facing stiff competition in the Smartwatch Market

The latest move is in sync with Apple's temporary lifting of the ban on selling its flagship smartwatches in a patent dispute with Masimo. The ongoing legal battle still carries potential financial and reputational consequences for the tech giant.

Apple’s shares have moved up 48.7% year to date compared with the Zacks Computer & Technology sector’s rally of 53.1%. The underperformance can be attributed to the recent challenges posed by a patent dispute affecting the flagship smartwatches.

Additionally, AAPL is also facing stiff competition with industry leaders in the smartwatch market, namely Alphabet GOOGL and Garmin GRMN, which are making concerted efforts to strengthen their smartwatch offerings.

Alphabet is riding the solid momentum of its Pixel watch series.

Recently, Alphabet’s Google introduced Pixel Watch 2, an upgraded smartwatch with a digital crown and AI-powered health tracking features, starting at $349.

The Google Pixel Watch 2 boasts a multi-path heart rate sensor, enhancing signal quality and providing accurate all-day heart rate tracking. The sensor also powers other fitness features like sleep tracking, high and low heart rate notifications, and Daily Readiness Scores.

Garmin, on the other hand, recently launched the quatix 7 pro marine smartwatch, featuring a 1.3 AMOLED display, 16-day battery life, Trolling Motor Remote, Fish Forecast apps, and seamless integration with Garmin marine systems for enhanced water-based activity experiences.

In response to the competitive landscape, Apple launched the Apple Watch Ultra 2, featuring new features such as the S9 SiP, a double tap gesture, bright display, expanded altitude range, Siri, Precision Finding, 36-hour battery life and up to 72 hours in Low Power Mode.

The company also recently announced the availability of watch OS 10 to strengthen the Apple Watch series further.

The latest update brings improved features for cycling workouts and hiking, introduces a novel mental health experience within the Mindfulness app for self-reflection and allows users to monitor the duration spent in daylight.

More than two-thirds of the customers who purchased the Apple Watch during fourth-quarter fiscal 2023 were first-time customers.

Currently, AAPL carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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