Apple’s latest smartwatches, Series 9 and Ultra 2, will be pulled from the shelves later this week, and sales will be temporarily halted starting December 21st. The company is taking preemptive measures to comply with the ITC import ban, which is part of its ongoing legal patent infringement dispute with the medical device maker, Masimo.
Both of these smartwatches will not be available directly through Apple, but they can still be purchased through third-party retailers such as Amazon. However, given that the ITC import ban prohibits importing these devices into the US, it may adversely impact sales if the ban remains in effect.
The Apple-Masimo Patent Infringement Case(s)
For a bit of a context, Apple was legally challenged by Masimo back in 2020 when the company filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US District Court in the Central District of California. However, due to the slow pace of the case being moved forward, Masimo filed another case with the ITC (International Trade Commission) in mid-2021.
The reason for filing both cases was that Masimo believed Apple had infringed its patents and accused the company of infringing five patents at 103 different places. However, ITC’s findings revealed 5 instances of patent infringement for two different patents, both relating to the SpO2 sensor on the Apple Watch.
In October of this year, ITC upheld a judge’s ruling from earlier in the year that Apple had infringed Masimo’s patents for developing its own blood oxygen tracking technology in its smartwatches. After this order, the Presidential Review period for 60 days started, during which the US President could choose to veto the decision. However, that hasn’t been done up until now, and the time ends on December 25th. As a precautionary measure, Apple chose to stop sales before the deadline.
Older Apple Watch & SE Models to Remain Unaffected
Apple has been using the blood oxygen sensor since the Watch 6. However, since that model is no longer in production and Apple no longer sells it, the older models weren’t affected. The Watch SE is also not affected at the moment since it doesn’t have an SpO2 sensor.
Back in 2013, Apple and Masimo engaged in discussions to collaborate collectively, however, Masimo alleges that Apple used the information shared in its meetings to develop its own technology, in addition to “stealing” its employees too.
This is all we know for now, but rest assured that we will keep you updated as new information becomes available.