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Apple Watch Sales Halted: Patent Dispute Puts Series 9 and Ultra 2 Off the Shelves

If you’re eyeing the latest Apple Watch models for a holiday gift, you might need to revise your plans. Apple has recently pulled its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches from its online store and plans to remove them from physical store shelves by December 24th. This sudden move follows a ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that Apple infringed on patents held by health-tech firm Masimo, particularly concerning blood oxygen monitoring technology featured in these models.

This ban, which restricts Apple from importing the specified watches, could potentially cost the tech giant a significant sum, estimated between $300 to $400 million in revenue. Apple is actively seeking solutions, including software updates, to resolve the patent issue and is considering challenging the ITC ruling.

Masimo’s stance remains firm, emphasizing the importance of legal compliance even for industry giants like Apple. The dispute began in 2020 when Masimo accused Apple of patent infringement related to its pulse oximetry technology. Masimo CEO Joe Kiani has openly accused Apple of deliberately infringing on their intellectual property and hiring away key Masimo personnel.

For Apple Watch enthusiasts, this development means out-of-warranty replacements for models as far back as the Series 6, which includes the disputed blood oxygen feature, will no longer be available. Apple has not indicated when, or if, the latest watches will return to their online or physical stores.

The tech company now faces limited options: reach a settlement with Masimo, hope for an unlikely presidential veto of the ruling, or convince customs officials that a software modification resolves the issue without needing hardware changes.

This turn of events marks a significant challenge for Apple, highlighting the complexities of intellectual property rights in the tech world and their impact on consumers and businesses alike. As the situation unfolds, it’s a reminder of the delicate balance between innovation and legal compliance in the rapidly evolving tech industry.