Apple has announced that it will halt sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States due to a patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in October that Apple had infringed on two of Masimo’s patents related to the blood oxygen feature in these devices. The ban is set to go into effect on December 26, unless vetoed.
The dispute began when Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court and a case with the ITC in June 2021, accusing Apple of 103 instances of patent infringement across five different patents. However, the ITC found that Apple infringed on only two patents, covering five different instances of patent infringements – each related to the Apple Watch’s pulse oximeter feature.
Apple has stated that it disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options. The company is focused on modifying its technology and trying to win favor with regulators. It is also working on submitting a workaround to the U.S. authorities. The ITC ban only applies to Apple’s direct sales channels, so third-party retailers like Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co., and Target may still be able to sell the affected models.
The ban is currently under review by a presidential review panel, with the review period slated to end on December 25. The Biden administration is “tracking” the impending US ban of nearly all Apple Watch sales due to the patent dispute, with power to veto the decision resting with the US Trade Representative.
It’s important to note that previously sold watches won’t be affected by the ban. Currently, there’s no indication that other Apple Watch models, aside from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, are affected by the legal situation surrounding the ITC’s ruling.