UPDATED 12:55 EDT / DECEMBER 18 2023


Apple to stop Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 sales in the US starting Thursday

Apple Inc. said that it will soon suspend the sale of two of its flagship Apple Watch models later this this week in the United States after a ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be pulled from websites on Dec. 21 and pulled from shelves at Apple retail locations after Dec. 24.

The technology giant has been embroiled in a long-running patent dispute with the medical technology Masimo, which claims that Apple infringed on its patents when it comes to medical sensor technology embedded in the watches.

According to a report from Reuters, in October the ITC issued an order upholding a judge’s order from January that Apple violated Masimo’s rights in using light-based technology to detect blood-oxygen levels. The order called for an import ban on any technology that Apple created using Masimo’s patents. The case was sent to the Biden administration for a 60-day Presidential Review Period.

Although President Biden could veto the ruling, this has not happened yet and the review period ends on Dec. 25.

In a statement sent to 9To5Mac, Apple said that the ban only affects the Series 9 and Ultra 2 and that the company would be preemptively taking action to comply with the ban.

“While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand,” the company said in the statement. “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.”

In the meantime, the ban does not affect any watches already sold. This will only pertain to watches that remain unsold on shelves or web storefronts. The blood oxygen sensors in Apple Watches first appeared in the Apple Watch Series 6 and any Watch with a sensor in it already sold will remain unaffected by the ban.

The origins of the ban come from when Masimo filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. District Court in 2020, claiming that Apple violated patents using its blood pulse oximeter technology in the Apple Watch. This was followed by an ITC filing in 2021. Although that lawsuit ended in a mistrial, the ITC did rule in favor of Apple, which led to the recent import ban.

It is expected that Apple will contest the ban, but that will not stop it from happening in the short term. The patent itself expires in August 2028. An appeal filing would most likely contain a request to put a temporary hold on the ban until another review can take place, allowing the import of watches with the company’s blood oxygen sensors.

Meanwhile, customers will not be able to purchase Apple Watches with these sensors in them within the confines of the U.S. until the ban is lifted and the legal wrangling is completed. Outside of the U.S. sales will continue as normal.

Image: Apple

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