Apple is preparing to halt sales of their two newest smartwatch models Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 – across the United States due to an unresolved patent dispute with medical device company Masimo.
The impending sales ban stems from an October ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) which determined certain Apple Watch models infringe on Masimo’s intellectual property regarding blood oxygen monitoring tech. Specifically at issue – the ability to measure blood oxygen saturation, also known as SpO2.
After a mandatory 60-day presidential review period, the ITC’s initial determination has been upheld. With the December 25th deadline looming for a potential veto, Apple has begun complying by removing impacted Watch models from sale.
Apple stated the ban only affects these latest generations because they currently feature the disputed SpO2 tracking. The more affordable Apple Watch SE with GPS, lacking blood oxygen sensors, can still be sold normally.
This represents a massive holiday headache for Apple – yanking their newest Watch models amidst peak buying season. It also underscores the ongoing risks tech giants face from patent litigation, even from seemingly innocuous features like a built-in pulse oximeter.
Looking ahead, Apple is likely weighing its options – negotiating a settlement, attempting to design around Masimo’s patents, or appealing to a higher court.
In the meantime, anyone still hoping to snag a Series 9 or Ultra 2 has just days left before the on-sale cut off. Shoppers outside the U.S. remain unaffected.
For Apple Watch fans interested in the banned models’ crown features – like crash detection, temperature sensing, or long battery life – picking up a unit stateside while supplies last may be prudent. Because until the patent dispute gets resolved, no new stock is coming to American shores!