Apple has announced that it will be halting sales of its flagship Apple Watch models in the United States, effective later this week.
The Series 9 and Ultra 2 will no longer be available from 21 December online and 24 December in retail stores – in the US.
The move comes after an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling involving a patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo, which has rumbled on for a couple of years.
The dispute centers on patents regarding the SpO2 sensor on the Apple Watch – which was introduced on the Series 6.
Apple has appealed for a Presidential Review, which could see Biden veto the ruling. That expires on 25 December, so Apple is taking pre-emptive steps by removing the current Series 9 and Ultra 2 from sale.
The Apple Watch SE is unaffected due to its lack of blood oxygen sensing tech.
Apple released the following statement to 9to5Mac:
“A Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature.
While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is pre-emptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand. This includes pausing sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from Apple.com starting December 21, and from Apple retail locations after December 24.
Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features. 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.
Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.
Existing models with blood oxygen sensors will continue to function normally. Still, the ITC's decision means that Apple will not be able to sell any new models with this feature until further notice.
And unless Apple can have this overturned by Presidential review, the Federal Courts, or a financial settlement with Masimo, US shoppers will be unable to buy its top wearables.
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