Apple, on the Losing Side of a Patent Dispute, Plans to Halt Sales of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 This Week

Chance Miller, reporting for 9to5Mac:

In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple has announced that it will soon halt sales of its flagship Apple Watch models in the United States. [...] The move comes following an ITC ruling as part of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo around the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor technology. [...]

Here is Apple’s full statement to 9to5Mac:

A Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature. While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand. This includes pausing sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from starting December 21, and from Apple retail locations after December 24.

Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features. 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.

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 U.S. as soon as possible.

There’s some room here to finish holiday gift sales, but color me surprised that this dispute has gone to the deadline like this. Apple will continue selling Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches outside the U.S., but here, the only model that will remain available is the SE.

Curious strategy from Apple to put this news out in a statement originally given only to one publication. My guess, and it’s just a wild guess, is that they’re playing chicken with the Biden administration, hoping President Biden will issue a veto on this ITC import ban. President Obama issued a similar veto back in 2013 that would have been banned the import of the iPhone 4 and some iPad models. The Biden administration, I’m guessing, was hoping that Apple would just write a check to Masimo to settle this dispute, and doesn’t want to be seen putting its thumb on the scale favoring a “big tech” company, all of which are considered villainous to some degree on the left.

Monday, 18 December 2023