Apple Stops Smartwatch Sales And Replacements In The US
In a surprising move, Apple has suddenly stopped selling its newest smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, in the United States. This decision also includes replacements for older watch models.
The Patent Dispute
This sales halt is a result of a patent dispute with California-based medical device companies Masimo and Cercacor. They claim Apple poached key staff and stole technology they developed for measuring oxygen levels in the blood. Most Apple smartwatches, including Series 9 and Ultra 2, have had this feature since 2020.
The Legal Battle
In October, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Apple violated some patent rights, issuing an order to stop certain imports, effective December 26. Apple plans to appeal the decision but removed the devices from its US site on December 21 and will take them off shelves in the country after Christmas Eve. Sales in other locations remain unaffected.
Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is exploring legal and technical options to keep the Apple Watch available to customers. They intend to file an appeal on December 26, after the presidential review period on ITC import bans expires.
Impact on Apple
The timing of this decision allows holiday sales to proceed without significant damage. Apple's wearables division, including the Watch, makes up nearly $40 billion, or about 10% of the company’s overall sales in the 12 months ended on September 30.
This marks a substantially significant moment in Apple’s history as it deals with patent law complexities while striving to offer innovative products to its customers. The outcome of this legal battle could have broad implications for the tech giant and the smartwatch industry as a whole.