Cupertino, CA – December 20, 2023: In a surprising move that could disrupt the holiday shopping season for tech enthusiasts, Apple is temporarily halting sales of its latest smartwatch models in the United States. The reason? A brewing patent dispute over the blood oxygen monitoring technology found in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.
The conflict stems from claims by Masimo, a medical technology company, that Apple infringed on its patents with the specific way the smartwatches measure blood oxygen levels. In October, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) sided with Masimo, issuing an order that could potentially bar Apple from importing the offending devices.
While President Biden has the final say on whether to enforce the ITC ruling, a decision isn’t expected until December 25th. However, Apple, rather than wait for the verdict, is proactively taking the Series 9 and Ultra 2 off its online store starting December 21st and in physical retail locations as of December 24th.
“[We are] taking steps to comply with the ITC’s order while this matter is under review,” stated Apple in a press release. “We remain confident in our position and look forward to working with the President to ensure consumers have access to our innovative products.”
Impact on Consumers and the Tech Industry
This pause in sales throws a wrench into Apple’s holiday season plans, as the Apple Watch has become a key driver of revenue and a status symbol for many consumers. For fans eagerly awaiting their shiny new Apple Watch, the news comes as a major disappointment, especially during peak gifting season.
The ripple effects could extend beyond disgruntled shoppers. Analysts speculate that the disruption could affect other smartwatch manufacturers, pushing consumers towards alternatives like Samsung Galaxy Watches or Fitbit devices.
It’s also worth noting that the broader tech industry will be watching this case closely. If the ITC ruling and subsequent presidential review uphold Masimo’s claims, it could set a precedent for future patent disputes involving wearable technology and health features.
For now, all eyes are on President Biden’s decision. He could veto the ITC’s order, allowing Apple to resume sales of the contested models. Alternatively, he could uphold the ruling, effectively banning the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from the US market.
Regardless of the outcome, this saga highlights the complex world of intellectual property in the tech landscape. It also underscores the potential risks involved when companies incorporate cutting-edge health features into their devices.
Stay tuned for further updates on this unfolding story, as President Biden’s decision is expected to have a significant impact on the future of smartwatch technology and holiday shopping plans.