Following a finding that Apple violated patent rights, the tech giant has decided to halt the sale of its latest watches in the United States. An order preventing sales and imports of watches featuring the disputed blood oxygen measurement is set to take effect on December 26. Apple plans to appeal the decision but will remove the devices from its US site on December 21 and from stores in the country post-Christmas Eve as a preemptive measure.
The patent infringement dispute revolves around allegations from California-based medical device firms Masimo and Cercacor, accusing Apple of poaching staff and unlawfully acquiring technology for blood oxygen measurement. Despite Apple’s disagreement with the order, it is taking steps to comply while pursuing legal and technical avenues to challenge the decision.
The International Trade Commission, in October, ruled in favour of Masimo, issuing an order to bar certain imports. Masimo’s chief, Joe Kiani, emphasised the significance of the decision, stating it sends a powerful message about accountability, even for the world’s largest company.
Apple’s smartwatches, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, have featured the disputed blood oxygen measurement since 2020, with the SE model being exempt. The International Trade Commission’s order awaits a 60-day review by the president, who holds the authority to veto it. Apple intends to appeal the decision and seek a suspension of the order during the appeal process.
This patent dispute is part of a broader conflict between Apple and Masimo over oxygen measurement technology, with Apple counterclaiming patent infringement. While Apple’s shares experienced a slight decline, analysts suggest that the timing allows holiday sales to proceed with minimal impact. Apple’s wearables division, including the Watch, constitutes nearly $40 billion, or around 10% of the company’s total sales in the 12 months ending September 30.