The cheaper Apple Watch SE remains on sale but the ban affects the Apple Watch Series 6 and later, as well as Apple Watch Ultra
The clock has wound down on the newest Apple Watch after President Joe Biden declined to issue a last-minute, emergency action to keep the best-selling smartwatch on store shelves.
President Joe Biden had until the end of Christmas day to overturn a US International Trade Commission ruling that prevents Apple from selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, among other newer models, because they violate patents registered to another company. But, as expected, Biden did not intervene.
Apple had already taken the offending Watch models off its online store, and Apple Store locations opened Tuesday without any of the latest top-of-the-line watches in stock. The cheaper Apple Watch SE, which was not part of the ruling, remains on sale, but the ban affects the Apple Watch Series 6 and later, and all models of Apple Watch Ultra.
In October, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Apple was in violation of a pulse oximeter patent, which uses light-based technology to read blood-oxygen levels. Masimo, a medical device maker, holds the patent in question.
Other retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, among others, continue to sell their remaining stock of Apple Watches in stores and online. But the ITC ruling prevents Apple from importing more of the smartwatches to the United States.
Apple has routinely marketed its smartwatch as a life-saving device, which has helped launch the Apple Watch into the stratosphere, making it the most popular watch sold around the world. But its skirmish with Masimo threatens to undermine that.
On December 18, Apple opted to preemptively begin taking the Series 9 and Ultra 2 versions of the Apple Watch out of stock in anticipation of the ruling kicking in. Without intervention from Biden, the 60-day review period on the ITC's ruling ends Monday.
"Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers," the company said in a statement at the time. But Apple (AAPL) also pledged to "take all measures" to bring the Apple Watch back to US customers soon.
The company may be able to make software tweaks, perhaps changing the way the Watch interacts with the pulse oximeter so that it does not violate Masimo's patent. But such a change could take time, and there's no guarantee that the ITC will accept Apple's potential solution.
Masimo CEO Joe Kiani told CNN he believes Apple deliberately infringed on his company's patents. But the companies have been at loggerheads for years. In October 2022, Apple filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo.
Although an intervention from Biden did not take place, there is some precedent for a president to overturn the ITC. In 2013, President Barack Obama vetoed an ITC ruling to ban older iPhones and iPads after it determined Apple was in violation of one of Samsung's patents.
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