April 24, 2024

Apple Watch Sales Stopped in the U.S. Amidst Patent Dispute

In a significant blow to its market dominance in smartwatches, Apple has ceased selling its latest models, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States.

Masimo uses light-based technology to measure the level of oxygen in the blood.

This move from the tech giant comes after the White House intervened in a ruling from the ITC (International Trade Commission) regarding a patent infringement issue.

The decision, which was eagerly waited for till December 25, has sent ripples through the tech industry. This is yet another instance reflecting the value of intellectual property rights in the digital age.

The dispute took over a pulse oximeter patent owned by Masimo, a medical device maker. In October, Apple was found guilty by the ITC of infringing this patent.

As per the ruling, Apple’s advanced smartwatch models have been barred from imports and sales in the US. However, the implications of the ruling won’t have any impact on the Apple Watch SE, a less expensive model.

After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023.Katherine Tai, the office of US Trade Representative

Apple’s online store had already taken off the concerned watch models. The physical stores didn’t sell these watches either on Tuesday.

Apple Files Appeal With The Federal Circuit

In response to the decision, Apple has filed an appeal with the Federal Circuit Court to overturn the decision of the ITC. Besides taking the legal route to combat the dispute, Apple is exploring the scope of making certain technical modifications in its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches in an effort to adhere to the regulations of US Customs.

Apple also requested a temporary stay on the ban until U.S. Customs reviews its redesigned product, anticipated by January 12.  The tech giant fears “irreparable harm” in case the ban remains applicable during the appeal.

We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.Apple

Although the ban left the online and retail stores of Apple in a noticeable void, other sellers like Best Buy and Amazon continue to sell their existing stock.  These disputed watches will be available outside the country for sale.

Masimo Accuses Apple Of Deliberate Patent Infringement

Joe Kiani, the CEO of Masimo, stated that Apple deliberately infringed the patent. This legal tussle isn’t new, given that Apple had filed a couple of patent infringement lawsuits against the company in October 2022.

In several interviews and statements, Kiani came up with a broader narrative about the protection of intellectual property rights against top players in the industry.

Today’s ruling by the USITC sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law.Joe Kiani, Masimo CEO

The historical record for presidential intervention in similar matters looks interesting. President Obama, in 2013, vetoed an ITC ruling that would have banned older iPhones and iPads for violating a Samsung patent. On the other hand, the Biden administration decided not to follow this strategy in this case.

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