Apple Is Pulling Apple Watches Off Shelves Amid an Ugly Patent Dispute — Here's How You Can Still Snag One This Holiday Season Apple will discontinue sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. following a patent dispute with the health tech company, Masimo.
- The International Trade Commission ruled that Apple infringed on a medical technology company's patent, leading Apple to halt sales of some Apple Watches.
- The dispute is centered around a blood oxygen feature.
- Third-party sellers like Walmart and Best Buy will still be able to sell all Apple Watch models.
Apple Inc. announced an imminent halt of the sales of certain Apple Watch models across the U.S. after the International Trade Commission ruled in October that it infringed on a medical technology company's patent, The New York Times reported.
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The Apple Watch Series 9 and the advanced Apple Watch Ultra 2 will be pulled from the online Apple Store on Thursday and from brick-and-mortar retail locations on Christmas Eve amid an ongoing contention with medical device manufacturer Masimo, which accused Apple of using its patented pulse oximeter technology — a key feature in Apple's smartwatches used to measure blood oxygen levels — without permission.
Apple had two months to strike a deal with Masimo to license its technology or appeal to the Biden Administration for a reversal to avoid a total ban on sales — and chose to appeal. "While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand," the company said in a statement, per CNN Business.
But the legal battle won't impede the sales of other models, like the Apple Watch SE. Only the Series 6 and later and all variants of the Apple Watch Ultra will be affected by the potential import ban. The affected watches debuted in September and showcase enhancements like the custom S9 chip for expedited processing and the hand gestures control mechanism.
Apple sold 49 million smartwatches in 2022 and about 26.7 million in the first 9 months of 2023, according to the outlet.
However, the ITC ban only extends to Apple's direct sales channels. That means that consumers can still find all Apple Watch models at third-party retailers like Walmart and Best Buy, both of which said Monday that they don't intend to pull the product, TIME reported.