Apple makes surprise decision to pause some Watch sales before Christmas

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Apple Watch Ultra 2 is seen as people lined up to buy the newly launched iPhone 15 and other Apple products outside of the Apple store in Palo Alto, California, United States on September 22, 2023. 

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Apple will pause U.S. sales of two of the latest versions of its Apple Watches due to an intellectual property dispute over their Blood Oxygen feature, the company said.

The decision stems from two orders issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission on Oct. 26, which would restrict Apple’s ability to sell products that use the Blood Oxygen feature after an intellectual property disagreement between Apple and Masimo, a medical technology company.

U.S. customers won’t see a change in their access to buying either watch until Thursday. Online sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will pause at 3 p.m. Thursday and in stores after Sunday.

The White House had 60 days to review the restrictions, per ITC policy, or until Dec. 25, but Apple said it started the pause early to ensure it is compliant with the order if the ITC ruling holds up.

Apple’s stock was down more than 1% as of midday Monday.

If the decision stands, one of the ITC’s orders will bar Apple and its affiliates from importing watches that use the Blood Oxygen feature, as well as materials used to make that feature, according to the FTC document. The ITC’s second order, a cease and desist, instructs Apple to stop selling the products using the Blood Oxygen feature.

If the ITC’s order stands, Apple has said it plans to “take all measures” to resume the sales of both watches as soon as possible.

People who have already bought either of the two Apple Watches in question will not have any issues with their product, according to Apple, and there is no change to the availability of either model outside of the U.S.

Apple’s wearables, home and accessories unit is the company’s third-largest revenue generator, bringing in $9.3 billion in the company’s last quarter.

In a statement, Apple wrote 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.”

Masimo said that the ITC ruling shows that “even the world’s most powerful company must abide by the law” in a statement.



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