Apple Watch Ultra 2
Starting December 21, Apple will suspend the sale of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Image Credit: Supplied

Apple is poised to halt the sale of its flagship Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, from Thursday — December 21.

The move is seen as a proactive response by the multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California to an ongoing patent dispute with medical device manufacturer Masimo, specifically centred around the SpO2 sensor.

The latest decision by Apple aligns with the recent directive from the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which could potentially lead to an import ban on Apple Watches due to alleged infringement of Masimo’s patent rights.

Confirmed by Apple, this sales pause specifically impacts the flagship Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, while the Apple Watch SE, devoid of the SpO2 sensor, remains unaffected.

read more

Apple Watch Series 9 features the S9 SiP, Apple's most powerful watch chip yet
Flagship smartwatch
Apple introduced its latest flagship smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 9, on September 12, 2023, coinciding with the launch of the highly anticipated iPhone 15 series.

Presidential intervention

Notably, sales of these models will continue internationally, as the ITC ban is limited to the US market. The contentious patent dispute with Masimo involves accusations of infringement related to pulse oximetry technology, with Masimo pursuing legal action.

Expressing dissent with the ITC order, Apple’s spokesperson, Nikki Rothberg, has stated that the company is actively exploring a range of legal and technical options to ensure the uninterrupted availability of the Apple Watch for its customers.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 devices are displayed for sale at The Grove Apple retail store on release day in Los Angeles, California, on September 22, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

The resolution of the import ban is currently pending a presidential review, granting President Joe Biden the authority to potentially veto the decision. However, such presidential interventions are rare. The review period concludes on December 25.

Still going to be available?
The ban only applies to Apple selling the devices, meaning the products are still going to be available from other retailers like Best Buy and Amazon

Working towards a resolution

In response to the dispute, Apple is undertaking software modifications to alter how the Apple Watch measures and reports oxygen saturation. Additionally, the company plans to submit a workaround to address the concerns raised by the ITC.

The intricate nature of the patent conflict underscores the complexity of intellectual property disputes in the technology sector.

As the situation unfolds, Apple remains focused on innovation and customer satisfaction, awaiting the outcome of the presidential review and diligently working towards a resolution that allows for the continued availability of its popular smartwatches.