Apple has announced the temporary suspension of sales for two of its latest Apple Watch models due to an ongoing patent dispute. Masimo, a medical tech company, claims Apple is infringing on its patents with its blood oxygen feature on the Apple Watches in question.
CNBC reports that Apple has made a surprise decision to halt sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States. The suspension, which takes effect just days before Christmas, comes amid a legal tussle over the blood oxygen feature of the smart watches with Masimo, a medical technology company, which claims ownership over the technology used in these Apple Watches.
The sales pause follows two orders issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on October 26, which may restrict Apple’s ability to sell products incorporating the disputed blood oxygen feature. While the White House had a 60-day review period ending on December 25, Apple chose to begin the suspension early to comply with the potential outcome of the ITC ruling.
Apple’s decision has immediate implications for its U.S. customers, as online sales of the affected models will cease this Thursday at 3:00 p.m., and in-store sales will follow suit after Sunday. However, this suspension does not affect customers outside the U.S., nor does it impact those who have already purchased these models.
This development comes as a significant move for Apple, whose wearables, home, and accessories segment is a major revenue generator, bringing in $9.3 billion in the last quarter. Apple wrote in a statement that the company “strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.”
Cynical observers have speculated that the sales suspension is a ploy to clear inventory to make way for new models. Although this seems extreme, Apple is the company behind “batterygate,” where it used software updates to slow down phones to encourage consumers to buy a new model.