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To proactively address a brewing patent dispute, Apple is set to cease the sale of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States starting this week. Tech News at Tool Battles

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Apple Halts Sales of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 Amidst Intensifying Patent Dispute

TL;DR: To proactively address a brewing patent dispute, Apple is set to cease the sale of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States starting this week.

In a strategic move to proactively address a brewing patent dispute, Apple is set to cease the sale of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States starting this week. The decision comes as the tech giant faces a significant patent battle with medical device manufacturer Masimo regarding the blood oxygen feature on its smartwatches.

Confirmed by Apple to CNN, the withdrawal of these popular Apple Watch models follows an ongoing disagreement with Masimo, whose pulse oximeter patent, utilizing light-based technology for reading blood-oxygen levels, has put Apple in the crosshairs. The company, known for marketing its smartwatches as life-saving devices, has enjoyed immense success, making the Apple Watch the most popular watch globally.

The US International Trade Commission ruled in October that Apple infringed on Masimo’s patent, prompting a potential ban on Apple Watch imports after a 60-day review period, which ends on December 25. Despite expressing strong disagreement with the order, Apple is taking preemptive measures to comply with the ruling if it stands.

“While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand,” stated Apple in response. “Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.”

Apple plans to continue the sale of other Apple Watch models, emphasizing that the import ban would impact Series 6 and later, as well as all models of Apple Watch Ultra imported after the upcoming review period. Notably, the Apple Watch SE remains unaffected.

The Series 9, launched in September, boasts a custom S9 chip for enhanced processing, introducing features like hand gestures for watch control, enabled by an advanced neural engine. Apple maintains its belief in the inaccuracy of the ITC’s findings and intends to appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit.

Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, sees Apple’s sales halt as a deliberate move in the ongoing patent dispute. He perceives it as a pressure tactic on President Biden, who has the authority to review the ITC’s ruling. While Apple has not sought a settlement, Kiani remains open to resolving the case amicably.

David McQueen, a director at ABI Research, notes that the decision to keep the watches available for purchase until December 24 could mitigate the financial impact. Apple, with a 24% market share in the sector, sold 49 million smartwatches in 2022 and around 26.7 million in the first nine months of 2023.

The duration and resolution of the dispute remain uncertain, leaving room for speculation on the potential financial implications for Apple.

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