Apple has announced a temporary halt to the sales of its latest smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, in the United States. This decision comes in response to an intellectual property dispute with medical tech company Masimo, specifically related to the blood oxygen sensing feature.
The move, effective December 21, is a proactive measure by the tech giant to comply with an order issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and is part of a larger legal battle between the two companies.
ITC temporarily bans Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 over Masimo patent claims
In October, the ITC issued a ban on certain Apple Watch imports into the U.S., citing Apple’s infringement of Masimo’s patents related to non-invasive blood oxygen sensing, also known as pulse oximetry. The dispute revolves around Masimo’s claim that Apple stole trade secrets and violated patents to develop the blood oxygen sensing feature in its watches. Despite Apple’s strong disagreement with the ITC’s order, it has decided to comply preemptively.
Starting December 21, online sales of the affected Apple Watch models will pause, and in-store sales will cease after December 24. Apple is taking these steps in anticipation of the ongoing Presidential Review Period, which ends on December 25.
In an official statement, Apple insists on a swift resolution to the blood oxygen sensor dispute, aiming to get Series 9 and Ultra 2 back in U.S. stores quickly. While vigorously contesting the ITC ruling, the tech giant is prepared for legal and technical battles, including a potential December 26 appeal.
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 Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from Apple.com starting December 21, and from Apple retail locations after December 24.
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.
The patent dispute between Apple and Masimo dates back to 2020 when Masimo accused Apple of poaching employees and stealing trade secrets to develop the blood oxygen sensing feature in the Apple Watch Series 6 and newer models. An ITC judge ruled in January that Apple had infringed on a Masimo patent, leading to the current import ban order issued in October.
The potential ban on importing and selling the affected models in the U.S. could have implications for Apple’s wearables business. While sales outside the U.S. remain unaffected, the company’s third-largest revenue generator faces uncertainty.