UPDATE: As of now, a US federal appeals court has ruled on pausing the sales and import ban of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, allowing Apple to sell the watches again, albeit temporarily.
Apple’s been in the spotlight a lot lately – following a lengthy duel with Beeper over the latter’s reverse-engineering of Apple’s iMessage platform for use with Android devices, as well as impressive sales records in October to name a few, there’s a lot going on for the Cupertino tech giant. With that in mind, the company has also run into some obstacles lately, particularly with regards to its smart wearable hardware.
More specifically, Apple has now stopped selling its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models in the United States, after a patent dispute with Masimo resulted in the International Trade Commission ruling in favor of the latter. This is due to Apple violating a number of patents with regards to the pulse oximeter hardware used in the watches, which works to measure blood-oxygen levels. Masimo manufactures medical hardware, and has previously filed patent suits against Apple in previous years.
The ban officially took effect on December 25, and buyers can no longer purchase the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Watches from Apple’s online and retail stores. However, third-party sellers with existing stock will still continue to sell them, that is until supplies last. With that being said, other watch models such as the Watch SE – which lack the disputed hardware components – will continue to be sold.
Initially, it was reported that only a Presidential veto could reverse this decision, although this is no longer the case – just recently, the ITC confirmed that the Biden Administration has decided not to overturn the ruling on the patent dispute, meaning that the ban is now in full effect. Speaking to the folks over at 9to5Mac, Apple states:
“At Apple, we work tirelessly to create products and services that meaningfully impact users’ lives. It’s what drives our teams — Clinical, Design and Engineering — to dedicate years to developing scientifically validated health, fitness and wellness features for Apple Watch, and we are inspired that millions of people around the world have benefited greatly from this product. We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.”
At the moment, Masimo has stated that it is willing to work with Apple to reach a negotiation of sorts which would involve royalties, although Apple (being Apple) strongly believes that it isn’t in violation of any hardware patents. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 were unveiled back in September alongside the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro series handsets.