Technology

Apple to Halt Sales of Newest Apple Watches in US

TechnologyDec 19, 2023

Apple to Halt Sales of Newest Apple Watches in US

The tech giant is “pausing” sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 online and in stores due to a patent dispute.

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple confirmed Monday it will stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 (left) and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 online beginning Dec. 21 and in stores after Dec. 24. The watches came out in late September, shortly after the release of the iPhone 15. (Photos courtesy of Apple)
Cupertino, Calif.—Apple will stop selling its two newest smartwatches in the United States amid an ongoing patent dispute over technology in the devices that measures wearers’ blood oxygen level.  

News of Apple’s decision broke Monday, with the tech giant confirming that it will be “pausing” sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2—the slightly larger, more expensive version—online beginning Thursday at 3 p.m. EST.

The watches will be available for sale at Apple retail locations through Christmas Eve. 

Apple’s decision to pull its newest smartwatches from shelves is the latest development in the company’s ongoing legal battle with Irvine, California-based medical tech company Masimo Corp. and its research and development arm, Cercacor Laboratories Inc. 

Masimo alleges Apple stole trade secrets and infringed upon its patents in developing the light-based pulse oximetry technology that first appeared in the Apple Watch Series 6. 

It’s been battling Apple in various courts since 2020, the year the Series 6 was released.

The latest legal development in the case came Oct. 26 when the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in Masimo’s favor, upholding an earlier ruling by an administrative law judge that Apple had infringed on certain Masimo patents for measuring blood oxygen levels.

It recommended a cease and desist order preventing Apple from marketing, selling, and distributing the allegedly infringing Apple Watches in the U.S., and a limited exclusion order—import ban—on the watches.

The ITC is a nonpartisan government body established in 1916 to protect domestic industries, including by investigating claims of patent infringement in imports. 

Per ITC procedure, the current president’s administration has 60 days to review any ruling by the commission; the deadline for President Joe Biden’s administration to act on the ITC ruling in the Masimo-Apple case is Dec. 25. 

If the Biden administration does not veto the ITC’s ruling, the import ban will go into effect Dec. 26. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Apple said Monday that while the review period does not end for another week, it is “pre-emptively” taking steps to comply.

“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 [ITC’s] order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers,” it said.

“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.”

In a statement to National Jeweler, a Masimo spokesperson said, “The decision to exclude certain foreign-made models of the Apple Watch demonstrates that even the world’s most powerful company must abide by the law.

“The ITC’s expert judgment in this matter should be respected, protecting intellectual property rights and maintaining public trust in the United States’ patent system and encouraging U.S. industry.”

According to an article published Monday by 9to5Mac.com, the ITC’s ruling only prohibits Apple from selling allegedly infringing Apple Watches, which means the two watches may still be available from retailers like Best Buy and Amazon after Dec. 24. 

The import ban, however, eventually will impact Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 availability.

Existing Apple Watches with the blood oxygen sensor will not be affected, and the technology will continue to function as normal. 

In addition, 9to5Mac noted Apple still can sell the less expensive Apple Watch SE in the U.S. because it does not have the blood oxygen level sensor. 

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