The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2—the company’s flagship models—are no longer available for purchase through the company’s U.S. online store or retail outlets as of last week, when the sales restriction went into effect. The tech giant Apple was probably expecting the Biden administration would step in and lift the prohibition so sales could start up again, but alas, the ban will stay in place.
All of the aforementioned smartwatches were pulled from sale at Apple’s online and in-person locations due to a patent dispute with Masimo. ‘After careful consultations, Ambassador Katherine Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023.’ This follows the most recent update from the International Trade Commission (ITC), which states that the sales ban will not be lifted in the region. The Biden administration is responsible for this decision.’
Thankfully, there is a silver lining to this situation because the current-generation Apple Watch S.E. is still available through multiple outlets thankfully for not having a blood oxygen monitor. Although the corporation is not entirely out of luck, it cannot sell the Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Apple Watch Series 9 in the United States due to this feature. Best Buy, Walmart, and other Apple retail partners can keep selling these premium wearables until they run out of stock, which, given the current circumstances, might not be for very long.
Due to patent infringements, the Apple Watch prohibition also prohibits certain models from being imported into the U.S., thus it will be unable to bring in new shipments to stock other locations. According to Masimo, a total hardware redesign of upcoming models would be required to restart sales, contradicting Apple’s earlier claims that it was developing a software upgrade that would enable the Cupertino firm to avoid the import restriction.
Joe Kiani, CEO of Masimo, has already indicated that he is receptive to the concept of settlement negotiations with Apple, but he has been silent on the exact amount that the tech company would have to pay in order to restart sales in the US. With each passing day that the ban is in effect, Masimo gains more power, despite Apple’s stated intention to challenge the ITC’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Once the International Trade Commission (ITC) learned that Apple had infringed on a patent that Masimo had submitted, they banned certain Apple Watch imports into the US in October. In a patent application, Masimo discussed pulse oximetry, a non-invasive method of measuring blood oxygen levels. The exact date that Apple will resume selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 is still up in the air, but until then, the business will follow all applicable requirements. Still, the business is putting its legal and technological heads together to find a solution to the conflict. The full statement from the corporation is as follows:
A Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature. While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand. This includes pausing sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from Apple.com starting December 21, and from Apple retail locations after December 24. The decision does not impact sales of the devices in other countries at this time.
Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features. Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.
Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.
For a long time, Masimo has claimed that Apple stole their workers and proprietary information about the blood oxygen sensor capability. Since the ITC court had found that Apple had violated Masimo’s patent for a light-based technique to measure blood oxygen levels, what comes next is unclear. Please stay tuned as we will provide you with further updates.
Source: Street Insider