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Apple to Stop Selling Watch Ultra 2 and Watch Series 9 in the US

nextpit Apple Watch 9 Sensor
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Apple has decided to stop selling its Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. from December 21 at 3:00 PM ET. This decision is due to a ruling by the International Trade Commission. The ruling is about a disagreement between Apple and Masimo, a medical device company, over a feature in Apple's smartwatches that measures blood oxygen levels.

Update as of December 18, 2023 3PM EST: Apple is introducing a software fix to avoid the preemptive ban. More about it.

Apple has told 9to5Mac that they're following an ITC import ban. This is because Apple was found to have copied a pulse oximeter sensor from Masimo. This sensor has been in Apple watches since Series 6, but the ban only affects the new Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, released in September. The cheaper Watch SE 2 and older SE models don't have this sensor.

The ban is only in the US, so the Series 9 and Ultra 2 will still be sold elsewhere. In the US, you can buy these watches at Apple stores until December 24. Other stores like Amazon and Best Buy will sell them until they run out of stock.

Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple's Watch Ultra 2 shares biometric sensors with the Watch Series 9 / © nextpit

President Joe Biden has the option to veto the ITC's decision to ban certain Apple watches until December 25. This is similar to what former President Barack Obama did with the iPhone 4 and iPad tablet ban. But, it seems unlikely that President Biden will intervene in this case, especially after his administration upheld a ruling in a different case involving Apple and AliveCor over an ECG patent.

Apple is planning to appeal the ITC's decision to block sales of its latest smartwatches. Their spokesperson, Nikki Rothberg, said that if the ban remains, Apple will do everything possible to bring the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 back to the U.S. market quickly.

Another possibility for the return of these models is if Apple and Masimo settle their patent dispute. However, a resolution doesn't seem close at the moment.

In early 2020, Masimo accused Apple of copying its pulse oximeter sensor technology and hiring away key staff. The first ruling from the ITC came in January 2023, followed by an October order to ban the sale of Apple's watches.

Apple is introducing a software fix to avoid the preemptive ban

Apple has confirmed to Bloomberg that they are addressing a potential issue with their latest smartwatches by updating the software. This update aims to modify the blood oxygen measurement algorithm and the way these metrics are displayed. This step is being taken in coordination with the US customs agency to possibly prevent a ban on these wearables.

Masimo, however, has stated that the issue is not just about software. They claim that the patents in question concern the hardware used to measure blood oxygen levels (SpO2), and thus, a software update alone won't settle the dispute.

In addition to the software update, Apple is reportedly considering a more substantial fix. They might replace the blood oxygen sensor in the current Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models. However, this change could take several months to implement, potentially delaying the availability of these watches in the market.

What is your opinion on this case? Do you think that the ITC ruling is reasonable? We look forward to hearing your answers.

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Go to comment (3)
Jade Bryan

Jade Bryan
Junior Editor

I still remember how amazed I was when I first got hold of the Nokia 3210 back when I was a kid, and it was during that time I developed my love for technology, particularly for mobile phones. I started sharing my knowledge through writing in different blogs and forums back in Nokia Nseries era. I even make videos before where I put different phones side-by-side. Today, I'm still an avid enthusiast of smartphones, but my interests have evolved into smart devices and electric vehicles.

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  • 49
    storm 3 months ago Link to comment

    It was kind of odd to encourage purchasing of infringing product.

  • Rusty H. 33
    Rusty H. 3 months ago Link to comment

    Will they be forced to DISABLE that sensor on all watch 9's for those who already have purchased that watch?

    • Jade Bryan 14
      Jade Bryan 3 months ago Link to comment

      Not likely. Users can still use the feature. But it is interesting to see what will be Apple's solution if the ban stretches and how will this affect the Watch Series 10 and future Apple Watches.

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