July 18, 2024

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Apple Faces US Sales Halt for Series 9 and Ultra 2 Watches Amid Patent Dispute

Apple has been forced to halt sales of its latest smartwatches, the Series 9 and Ultra 2, in the United States following a patent dispute that led to a ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission (USITC). The White House declined to lift the ban this week, reinforcing the sales and import restrictions on these Apple watches.

The USITC’s decision, issued in October and subject to a 60-day review by the president, aimed to protect medical device maker Masimo, which accused Apple of infringing on its patents and engaging in unfair practices, including poaching its staff. Apple strongly disagrees with the ruling and intends to appeal the decision.

In response to the dispute, Apple had previously removed the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches from its US site and retail stores earlier this month, a move described as “pre-emptive.” However, sales in other regions remain unaffected.

The ban is linked to allegations that Apple violated two patents held by Masimo, particularly those related to technology for measuring oxygen levels in the blood. Apple’s smartwatches, excluding the lower-cost SE model, have featured this disputed blood oxygen measurement capability since 2020. The ban does not impact previously-sold watches.

Apple had sought a stay on the ban until Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could evaluate whether redesigned versions of the watches, without the contested technology, still infringed on Masimo’s patents. CBP is expected to make its decision on January 12, as communicated by an Apple spokesperson.

Despite the setback, Apple has filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals to lift the ban. Meanwhile, Masimo sees the White House’s decision as a victory for the US patent system and innovation, benefiting American consumers in the long run.