Apple's latest smartwatches the Ultra 2 and Series 9 are no longer available for purchase in the United States. This dramatic turn of events stems from a patent infringement dispute with medical device company Masimo, this dispute led to a ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and upheld by the Biden administration.
Masimo a California-based medical company claims that Apple's blood oxygen (SpO2) sensor technology featured in its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches infringes on their patents. Masimo alleges that Apple intentionally hired away key former employees, thereby gaining access to confidential information related to Masimo's proprietary pulse oximetry technology.
After investigating the ITC agreed with Masimo and issued an exclusion order, essentially banning the import and sale of Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 in the United States.
Apple has contested the ruling, arguing that Masimo's patents are invalid and their own technology is unique. However, the Biden administration chose not to overturn the ITC's decision, effectively letting the ban stand.
Apple has pulled the affected Watch models from its online store and physical stores within the US. The existing consumers will continue to receive software updates and support, but no new units will be sold. However, the ban does not extend to other countries, so these watches will still be available for purchase internationally.
Apple's ban on importing and selling the latest Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the US certainly has potentially hurt sales amid the holiday season. This move has not only affected Apple but also its consumers who were eagerly waiting to get their hands on the latest models.
In response to the ban, Apple is exploring legal options to fight the ban, potentially seeking an injunction or appealing the ITC's decision. Additionally, they are reportedly working on redesigning the SpO2 sensor technology to avoid infringing on Masimo's patents, potentially paving the way for a return to the US market.
The ongoing patent dispute between Apple and Masimo highlights the tension in the tech industry over intellectual property rights. It reminds companies to thoroughly research and assess potential patent infringement before releasing new products. Despite this setback, Apple remains dominant in the global smartwatch market and will find a way to overcome this hurdle in the US.