To everyone’s surprise, Apple has received a shocking blow as it faces a ban on selling its newest smartwatches, namely the Watch Series 9 and the Watch Ultra 2, within the borders of the United States. This unexpected turn of events comes as a result of the International Trade Commission (ITC) making a decision in favor of the ban. Furthermore, President Joe Biden’s administration has decided against using its veto power to overturn this ban, thus causing a major setback for the renowned tech giant.
On December 21st, Apple promptly took down both devices from its official website and removed them from its physical stores following December 24th. The reason behind this ban is rooted in a discovery made by the ITC, which determined that Apple had infringed upon Masimo’s patent for blood oxygen saturation technology. As a result, the ITC not only forbade the sale of the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 but also instructed Apple to halt the sale of any previously-imported devices that contained the infringing technology.
Apple indicated that it will file an appeal, expressing strong disagreement with the ruling. “We are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible,” they declared in a statement. Apple tried to get the ITC to reverse the prohibition while they awaited an appeal, but they were denied. The last resort was a veto decision, which never happened.
The ban, however, only affects Apple’s own stores in the US. Consumers can still purchase the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 from other retailers like Best Buy and Target while supplies last. Notably, the Watch SE, lacking a blood oxygen sensor, remains unaffected and continues to be available for purchase.
The future course of action for Apple remains uncertain. Possible scenarios include making software modifications to the blood oxygen sensor or disabling the sensor on imported devices. However, these solutions may not be sufficient to appease the ITC, leading to speculation about a potential settlement between Apple and Masimo. As the tech giant navigates this setback, it raises questions about the intricate balance between innovation, patent rights, and corporate disputes in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.