Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 sales will soon be halted in the US. This comes after an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling surrounding a patent dispute between Apple and Masimo, a medical technology company that claims that Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor technology violates several of their patents. The case is now under a 60-day Presidential Review Period that ends on December 25. There are now also reports of the Cupertino-based tech giant working on a software fix to change how the affected watches measure blood oxygen levels to try and get around a possible sales ban.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple confirmed that the Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 will not be available to order from the company’s US website after 3pm ET on Thursday, December 21, while in-store inventory from Apple retail locations will be unavailable after December 24. The ITC ruling that prompted this decision only stops Apple from selling the concerned products, which means that they should be available for purchase through other channels like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. However, if the ban goes into effect after December 25, Apple will also be held back from selling the concerned models to resellers, which would lead to an availability shortage.
Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report claims that Apple, in anticipation of the ban, has started working on a way to change algorithms and the software it currently uses on the Watch Ultra 2 and Watch Series 9 models concerning blood oxygen monitoring. The report cites sources within Apple who are familiar with this development and said that the company is aiming to alter how the “technology determines oxygen saturation and presents the data to customers.”
In January, an ITC judge ruled that Apple overstepped on one of five Masimo patents regarding its use of light sensors to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Apple initially disagreed with the decision and requested a full review by the Commission. In October, the ITC issued an order that could prevent Apple from importing the affected Apple Watches effectively resulting in a ban.
Following the order, a 60-day Presidential Review Period started within which the US President can intervene and veto the ITC ban. So far, President Joe Biden or his office have not acted on the matter. The review period is set to expire on December 25 and if not reversed by then, the ban on sales of the Apple Watch 9 Series and Watch Ultra 2 is expected to go into effect.
Apple clarified that their announcement comes “preemptively” ahead of the end of the review period to comply with the ITC ruling. If the ban goes into effect, only the sale of Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models will be impeded since those are the models that are equipped with blood oxygen sensors. Lower-end models like the Apple Watch SE would remain unaffected.