Apple will suspend sales of selected Apple Watch models in the United States

Apple intends to stop selling some versions of the Apple Watch in the United States as early as this week in order to avoid one of the most significant patent challenges in years.

According to CNN, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will no longer be available for purchase on or in retail locations after December 24.

The decision to discontinue one of its most popular devices stems from an ongoing dispute with medical equipment firm Masimo over its blood oxygen feature. Apple has consistently marketed its wristwatch as a life-saving device, which has helped propel the Apple Watch into orbit, making it the most popular watch sold worldwide. However, its conflict with Masimo threatens to derail that.

The US International Trade Commission concluded in October that Apple was infringing on Masimo’s pulse oximeter patent, which employs light-based technology to measure blood oxygen levels. President Biden has 60 days to consider the verdict before it becomes effective.

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

In a statement, it stated: “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.”

If the injunction is upheld, the company 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.”

Apple will suspend sales of selected Apple Watch models in the United States

Other models will continue to be available for purchase, but an import ban would apply to Apple Watch Series 6 and later, as well as all versions of Apple Watch Ultra imported after the end of a forthcoming review period. According to Apple, this will have no effect on sales of the Apple Watch SE.

In September, Apple released the Series 9 phone. It has a proprietary S9 chip for speedier processing and can be controlled by hand gestures, due to an improved neural engine that processes data from sensors and machine learning.

A continuous conflict

Apple stated that it believes the ITC’s findings are incorrect and should be overturned. It also intends to appeal the ruling to the Federal Circuit.

Furthermore, Apple stated that it has filed documentation proving how a prohibition will harm healthcare, scientific and medical research, and Apple Watch customers who rely on ECG, blood oxygen, and other health-related capabilities.

According to Masimo CEO Joe Kiani, the move to prohibit the sale of the devices is the latest salvo in the ongoing patent battle.

“This has been a deliberate infringement,” Kiani added, referring to the sales halt as a pressure tactic against Biden.

Apple has not attempted to settle the issue with Masimo, although Kiani has stated that he is willing to do so.

The corporations have long been embroiled in legal battles. Apple filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo in October 2022, alleging that the business duplicated copyrighted Apple Watch features into Masimo’s W1 medical smartwatch.

Apple will suspend sales of selected Apple Watch models in the United States

Effect on sales

ABI Research director David McQueen said the decision to keep the watches available for purchase in stores until December 24 should help ease the financial impact of the stop, giving customers a few days to acquire the devices before Christmas.

“While Apple is the lead player in the sector with around a 24% market share, it may not actually affect its business too much if it can boost sales in these final few days, assuming there is available stock,” the analyst said. “It may be able to ride out the holiday season without too much of an impact on sales.”

In 2022, Apple sold 49 million smartwatches, and in the first nine months of 2023, it sold approximately 26.7 million.

“It will be interesting to see how long the dispute will last, or when Apple opens its wallet, and when the ban will be lifted,” he said.

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