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Ban on Apple Watches in The U.S.

January 09, 2024

1 min 55 sec read
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Apple had to end sales of two of its Apple Watches earlier this month on the back of a court ruling that the company violated patent laws. Apple had hoped the White House might save them from a sales and import ban with a veto order, but that didn't happen.

Apple Watch with Big Red X Over the Face
In an executive release from President Biden's office, the White House has decided to uphold the sales ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 initiated by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). The United States Trade Representative reviewed the U.S. ITC's verdict, concluding that Apple infringed on patented technology owned by Masimo and Cercacor Labs.

Beginning December 26, the U.S. ITC's decision becomes an official order that prevents Apple from selling two of its most recent smartwatches in the U.S. or importing units into its home market. The ban covers Apple's offline and online sales channels, but consumers can still get an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 on their wrists by purchasing them from third-party outlets like Best Buy or Amazon.

Remember that this third-party availability is only good until retailers run out of them. When current inventories are gone, so are the watches, at least for as long as the ban remains.

If Apple has its way, that won't be long. Unhappy with the U.S. ITC's decision, Apple is already planning to get the order reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.

So what is the issue? It's the sensor technology that allows measurement of blood oxygen saturation level. It's this feature in particular that instigated the sales halt order from the United States International Trade Commission, brought about by an "extensive patent lawsuit initiated by the major medical tech Masimo."

In January 2023, a U.S. ITC judge said Apple was guilty of infringing on the patents related to Masimo's pulse oximeter technology; however, no sales ban was imposed, although an import ban was under consideration, but indicated that an import ban was possible.

Another court invalidated some of Masimo's patent claims. Apple took the opportunity to fire back by filing its own lawsuit against Masimo, claiming that the company copied the Apple Watch. If you can't beat them, join them.

Unfortunately for Apple, the U.S. ITC upheld its original decision, maintaining that Apple had infringed on one of Masimo's patents.

None of this is good for Apple, but let's not forget the consumers who had their hearts set on these watches.

Apple let its customer services team know that replacements and repairs of out-of-warranty smartwatches as far back as the Apple Watch Series 6 (excluding the affordable SE models) are paused while the sales ban is effective.

For now, if you want those new Apple Watches, you will have to find a retailer that has them in stock. Get 'em while they're hot.

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