Apple To Pause Series 9, Ultra 2 Watch Sales In US

Apple said it would temporarily halt sales of its latest Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US starting this week in order to comply with a legal order in a patent dispute over blood oxygen monitor technology.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) in October ordered Apple to stop selling the models, which were introduced alongside the latest  iPhone 15 range in September, after finding they violated patents held by medical technology company Masimo.

The order is subject to a 60-day presidential review period, expiring on 25 December, during which the administration can decide whether or not to veto it, but Apple said it is taking steps toward compliance now in case the ruling should stand.

The administration’s Office of the US Trade Representative said Ambassador Katherine Tai was “carefully considering all factors in this case”.

Apple Watch Ultra 2. Image credit Apple

Sales ban

Such vetos are rare, but Apple benefited from the last one in 2013 when Barack Obama vetoed an ITC ruling blocking the import of iPhone 4 and certain iPad models in a dispute with Samsung Electronics.

Apple told Silicon UK that the company was “preemptively taking steps to comply” with the order, including pausing sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from the Apple online store beginning Thursday, 21 December, and from Apple retail locations after 24 December.

“Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible,” the company said.

The firm added that 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”.

Other models that do not include the disputed blood oxygen Sp02 sensor, such as the lower-priced Apple Watch SE, also introduced in September, are not affected by the sales ban.

Apple Watch Series 9. Image credit Apple

Medical tech dispute

Apple also continues to sell the older Series 8 line of smartwatches which do not include the device.

The Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches would also remain available outside the US during the holiday season, including the Asian Lunar New Year season which in 2024 falls in early February.

Masimo said on Monday that the ITC decision “should be respected” as it protects intellectual property rights, maintains public trust in the US patent systems and encourages US industry.

The company has accused Apple of hiring away its staff and stealing its technology for the Apple Watch, while Apple has countersued Masimo accusing the firm of legal manoeuvres aimed at clearing a path for a competing device.

A jury trial on Masimo’s allegations in a California federal court ended in a mistrial in May.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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