Apple stops selling the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in the U.S. due to an import ban
Apple has officially stopped selling the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the U.S. The decision comes ahead of an impending import ban by the ITC.
I had been following the news about this issue for a few days, but now it has been officially announced by Apple.
Why are the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 not available in the U.S.?
Apple is in a legal dispute with Masimo, a medical tech company. One of its products is a Pulse Oximeter, which is used to measure the Blood Oxygen Level, commonly known as SpO2. This isn't the first time the two companies have locked horns, Masimo and Apple have had legal issues in the past, but none of the older Apple Watch Series are impacted by this ban.
Masimo has alleged that Apple stole its patented tech for the SpO2 sensor, and implemented it in the Apple Watch Series 6 and above in 2020. The medical device maker had claimed that Apple had began hiring its employees, including the company's Chief Medical Officer. Apple had retorted that the allegations were false, by saying that Masimo had tried to incorrectly use the ITC, and thus could have prevented a potentially lifesaving product from being used by millions of people in the U.S. Apple had also pointed that Masimo had plans for its own watch that copies Apple's. Last month, Masimo received FDA clearance for its own wearable, also a wrist-worn device.
Masimo had filed 2 separate cases claiming that Apple had infringed on its patents. The first case was registered with the US District Court in the Central District of California, and another with the ITC. The latter resulted in the ITC finding Apple guilty, and issued an import ban.
According to a statement sent by Apple to TechCrunch, a Presidential Review Period is in progress on an intellectual property dispute related to the Apple Watch devices with the Blood Oxygen feature. The review period ends on December 25, and President Joe Biden could veto the ban, though it is unlikely to happen.
The Verge quotes Apple spokesperson, Nikki Rothberg, as saying that Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible, if the order stands. It may file an appeal in the Federal Circuit.
Now, it is worth noting that the ban only affects Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices that are sold in the U.S., so the Cupertino company can continue selling the wearables in other Countries. The weird thing about this ban is that it only applies to Apple's website and stores in the U.S. While Apple's web store says that the Watch is currently unavailable, you can still pick up the device from a brick-and-mortal Apple Store, until December 24th, after which all sales of the said devices will be halted. The ITC ban takes effect on December 25th.
On the other hand, retailers, like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, can continue to sell the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, even after the ban. But, Apple has actually instructed its staff not to point out where they can get the devices from.
Apple Watch repairs have also been affected
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that as a result of the ban due to the patent dispute, Apple is unable to fix older Apple Watches. This affects out-of-warranty models dating back to Apple Watch Series 6. The company normally replaces the entire wearable, but it won't be able to do so, to fix devices that are no longer in warranty, and those that are sold after December 25.
The timing couldn't be worse, with the Holiday season around the corner, the Apple Watch could be a popular gift. An unfortunate side effect of the Apple Watch ban in the U.S. is that it could lead to resellers who would want to capitalize on the situation by hoarding the watches, and making a profit by selling them to desperate buyers.Advertisement