What just happened? The US government has officially banned the import of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 over a patent dispute regarding their new blood oxygen sensor. The ban came into effect on Tuesday, December 26, after the Biden Administration declined to veto the US International Trade Commission's (USITC) decision to restrict the wearables.

Update: Apple has flexed its corporate and legal muscle, managing to secure a temporary halt in the legal dispute concerning its Apple Watch, as an appeals court on Wednesday decided to delay the previously implemented ban that started on Tuesday. The court has given the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) until January 10 to reply to Apple's plea for an extended suspension as the case continues to unfold in the judiciary, per the court's decision.

In a statement, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said that "after careful considerations," Ambassador Katherine Tai decided not to reverse the ITC's decision that called for a blanket ban on the import of the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US. In anticipation of the ban going into effect this week, Apple halted online sales of both devices from its US website on December 21 before stopping in-store sales a few days later.

The sales freeze on the new Apple Watches was ordered by a US court earlier this year after medical technology company Masimo successfully claimed that Apple's light-based pulse-ox sensor infringed its patents. The ruling was upheld by the USITC in October, and was automatically sent to the White House for a 60-day presidential review window, which ended on December 25. With the Biden administration choosing not to intervene, the ban came into effect the next day.

While the ban is a major setback for Apple, the company is not taking it lying down, and has appealed the ITC's decision in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. As reported by Reuters, the company asked the court to suspend the ban, at least until the US Customs and Border Protection decides whether the watches infringe on Masimo's patents.

In a media statement, an Apple spokesperson said that the company "strongly disagrees" with the USITC decision and is taking "all measures" to get the two devices back on store shelves as soon as possible. On the other hand, a Masimo spokesperson hailed the ban as "a win for the integrity of the U.S. patent system, and ultimately American consumers."

The way things are right now, Apple's only real chance to get the two watches unbanned in the US is for the Federal Circuit to overturn the USITC's decision. If that doesn't happen, Apple will be left with no choice but to settle with Masimo to get its products back on sale. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the sales ban only applies to the US currently, so Apple fans in the rest of the world don't have anything to worry about, at least for now.