Apple forced to stop selling Apple Watch after patent ruling

The Apple Watch patent dispute looks like it’s coming to a head, as the company halts sales of some wearables just before the holidays.

Screenshot of the pink Apple Watch Series 9 for Apple Watch patent dispute news

An Apple Watch patent dispute is stopping sales of the brand’s two new wearables, Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, following a ruling from the International Trade Commission (ITC) back in October. The medical tech company Masimo claims that Apple stole the blood oxygen sensor from their designs.

As an Apple spokesperson said to 9to5Mac, “a Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature. While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand.”

This review period means that U.S. President Joe Biden could veto the ruling and allow Apple to continue selling the products. Though it’s rare, this isn’t without precedent when it comes to Apple, with Barack Obama vetoing a ban on the iPhone in 2013 following a legal dispute with Samsung, as noted by 9to5Mac.

This is likely a serious blow for Apple, particularly heading into the holiday season. The company is halting sales of the two watches on from December 21, and retail stores will halt sales on December 24. As the company says, the presidential review period isn’t up until Christmas day, so it is “preemptively” putting the plans in pace.

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The company spokesperson continued, “Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features. Apple strongly disagrees with the order and is pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that the Apple Watch is available to customers. Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.”

It’s hard to predict whether Biden will step in – a ban on Apple Watch isn’t anywhere near as dramatic as the possible iPhone ban in 2013, but it’s still a big part of Apple’s business. Whether Apple has stolen the blood oxygen tech from Masimo is another thing altogether, one that’s disputed and debated by people far cleverer than myself.

It might not be so bad; Apple’s 2024 lineup looks set to include a new design for Apple Watch with extra health features, so maybe it’s best to wait until next year to pick one up. If you want something right away, check out our guide to the best smartwatches. We’ve also got an Apple Watch Series 9 review if you want to rush to buy one before the ban.