Apple Ceases Sales of Series 9 and Ultra 2 Smartwatches in the US Amid Patent Dispute

Apple said on Monday it would pause sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the United States starting this week as it deals with a patent dispute over the technology enabling the devices’ blood oxygen feature. The move comes after an order in October from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that could bar Apple from importing its Apple Watches into the country after it found the devices violated medical technology company Masimo’s patent rights.

The ITC ruling would force Apple to cease production of the two models, including Masimo’s patented pulse oximetry technology, which measures the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and can alert you to dangerous conditions like low blood pressure and heart problems. The ITC’s decision also bars Apple from selling the two models currently in its lineup unless it agrees to a licensing agreement with Masimo or finds a way around the patents.

It’s not clear whether or when Apple might be able to resume sales of the two models, but it has started preparing for a possible ban by removing them from its website and sending new signs to stores that don’t display images of the devices. According to a Bloomberg report, engineers at Apple are also working on a range of legal and technical options, including changing algorithms in the device’s software to adjust how it determines blood oxygen saturation levels and presents them to users.

Apple has continued sales of the other two main models in its lineup, including the lower-priced Apple Watch S.E. and the Apple Watch Edition, which both lack Masimo’s patented technology. But a delay in the arrival of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 might hurt overall holiday sales, particularly in January and February, which are typically the slowest months for the device.

A rep for Masimo told Reuters that it will seek a “patent remedy” from the ITC, which has 60 days to decide whether to overturn or uphold the import ban. That means the Biden administration will likely have to strike down the ruling if it wants to let Apple resume device sales in the U.S.

Apple has argued that the ITC’s finding that it infringed Masimo’s patent rights is flawed and should be reversed. It’s also trying to reach a licensing deal with the company or find an alternative to the ITC’s remedial orders. If it can’t do either of those things, the sales pause will last until the patents expire in 2028. That’s a lifetime in the fast-paced world of consumer electronics, but it may be enough time to drive consumers toward competitors like Samsung. This article originally appeared on Nasdaq and has been republished with permission.

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