Ticking Tock: Apple Watch Series 9 & Ultra 2 Disappear Amidst Patent Dispute

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The ticking clock has silenced on the latest Apple Watch models in the US, as a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo casts a shadow over the smartwatch giant.

Key Highlights:

  • Import ban: US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled Apple’s SpO2 sensor infringed on Masimo patents, leading to a ban on Apple Watch Series 9 & Ultra 2 imports and sales in the US.
  • Timeline: Ban effective December 26th, 2023. Apple pulled both models from online stores on December 21st and physical stores on December 24th.
  • Impact: Only the latest models affected. Older Apple Watches still available for purchase.
  • Resolution: Apple exploring options, including software tweaks, to circumvent the ban. Presidential intervention a possibility.
  • Future: Legal battle ongoing. Long-term impact on Apple Watch line and wearables market uncertain.

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In a landmark ruling, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) found Apple’s blood oxygen measurement technology in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 infringed on patents held by Masimo. This resulted in an import ban, effectively halting sales of these models in the United States.

A Swift Departure:

Apple responded swiftly to the ITC decision, announcing they would pull the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from their online store on December 21st, 2023, and physical stores on December 24th. While existing inventory might still be available through some retailers, the official channels for acquiring these models have gone dry.

This marks a significant blow to Apple, considering the popularity of the Apple Watch and the anticipated buzz surrounding the latest offerings. The Series 9 and Ultra 2 boasted advanced features like improved health tracking and rugged durability, making them appealing to a wide range of consumers.

Behind the Ban:

The root of the issue lies in Masimo’s claims that Apple infringed on their patented pulse oximetry technology, specifically related to blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) measurement. Masimo, a pioneer in this field, has been developing and manufacturing medical devices utilizing this technology for decades.

The ITC, after a lengthy investigation and legal battle, sided with Masimo, awarding them an exclusion order that prohibits the importation and sale of infringing Apple Watch models. This order was upheld despite Apple’s appeals, leaving the company scrambling for solutions.

The Road Ahead:

Apple’s immediate focus is likely on minimizing the impact of the ban. Software updates or design modifications could potentially bring the latest Apple Watches into compliance with the ITC ruling, paving the way for their return to the US market. Additionally, appeals to the federal courts or intervention from the White House remain possibilities, though long-term success is uncertain.

Meanwhile, the ban will undoubtedly affect consumer choice and potentially hamper Apple’s smartwatch momentum. While older models remain available, the absence of the latest advancements might hold back some buyers. Competitors like Samsung and Garmin could see a temporary boost in their US market share as well.

Ultimately, the saga of the Apple Watch ban highlights the intricate landscape of intellectual property rights and the potential challenges faced by even tech giants in navigating this terrain. The long-term consequences for Apple and the wearables market remain to be seen, but one thing is certain – the clock is ticking for the resolution of this dispute.

About the author

Jamie

Jamie Davidson

Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing with screen sharing, and a mobile app to easily and reliably get work done."