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Apple Watch Series 9 & Ultra 2 Grounded in US: Blood Oxygen Patent Dispute Takes Flight

Apple Watch Series 9 & Ultra 2 Grounded in US: Blood Oxygen Patent Dispute Takes Flight

Industry news News 19/01/2024

A legal dispute centred around blood oxygen monitoring technology has grounded two of Apple's latest smartwatch models in the US.

As of January 18, 2024, Apple can no longer sell the popular Series 9 and Ultra 2 models within the country due to a patent infringement ruling. This development stems from an ongoing battle between Apple and medical technology company Masimo, leaving the future of these highly anticipated smartwatches uncertain for American consumers.

Prior to the ban, Apple held onto a temporary reprieve, allowed to sell the Series 9 and Ultra 2 while the courtroom drama unfolded. However, a US appeals court overturned this decision, effectively pulling the plug on American sales and imports of these coveted models. The ban now casts a wide net, encompassing both sales and imports, effectively removing the watches from American shelves.

The dispute hinges on the blood oxygen monitoring feature, a key health metric touted by both the Series 9 and Ultra 2. Masimo, along with its affiliate Cercacor, alleges that Apple infringed upon their patented technology for measuring blood oxygen levels. They further claim Apple poached crucial staff to gain an unfair advantage, adding fuel to the legal fire and escalating the already heated battle.

In October 2023, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) sided with Masimo, ruling that Apple had indeed infringed upon certain Masimo patents. This triggered an import and sales ban for specific Apple Watches, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2. The ban officially grounded the smartwatches on January 18, 2024, at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.

Apple announced plans to release versions of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 without the disputed blood oxygen feature, allowing them to remain available in the US market albeit with reduced functionality. This move, while a concession, demonstrates Apple's commitment to maintaining its smartwatch presence in the country.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani celebrated the ruling as a victory for American innovation and intellectual property rights. "This decision," he stated, "sends a clear message that even the biggest companies must play by the rules and face the consequences of infringing patents." Apple, on the other hand, maintains its strong disagreement with the ITC's ruling, emphasizing its intention to appeal while prioritizing minimal disruption for customers.