Apple Suddenly Halts Sales of Some Watches

Apple is halting US sales of is Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 amid a patent dispute.
Apple Suddenly Halts Sales of Some Watches
A person scans a QR code on an Apple Watch at a Harmons Grocery store on August 4, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Apple is halting U.S. sales of its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against the company amid a patent dispute.

Online sales of the two products via will stop on Dec. 21, while in-store sales will stop on Dec. 24, the iPhone manufacturer said in a statement to several news outlets on Monday.

“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,” Apple said in the statement. “While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand. This includes pausing sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from starting December 21, and from Apple retail locations after December 24.”

The move comes after an order in October from the U.S. International Trade Commission that could bar Apple from importing its Apple Watches after finding the devices violate medical technology company Masimo’s patent rights.

The decision is under review by President Biden until Dec. 25, but Apple stated it is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand. A presidential administration has not vetoed an ITC ruling since 2013, when President Barack Obama’s administration overturned an import ban on Apple’s iPhones and iPads from a patent dispute with Samsung.

The Biden administration in February chose not to veto a separate import ban on Apple Watches based on a patent-infringement complaint from medical technology company AliveCor. The ITC has placed the ban on hold for other reasons.

The Cupertino, California-based company said that it disputes the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ruling.

“Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features,” the company’s statement added. “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. 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 US as soon as possible.”

Masimo has accused Apple of hiring away its employees, stealing its pulse oximetry technology, and incorporating it into the popular Apple Watch.

After the decision Monday, Masimo told CNBC that the ruling shows that “even the world’s most powerful company must abide by the law.” Massimo CEO Joe Kiani told CNN that he believes Apple’s move to stop sales of the two Apple Watch devices is a pressure tactic to get President Biden to act.

Mr. Kiani also told CNBC in an interview in October that he was open to negotiating an agreement with Apple.

David McQueen, a director at ABI Research, told the outlet that the move to leave some of the watches available to be purchased in stores by Dec. 24 could lessen the impact of the pause because it gives shoppers time to buy before Christmas.

“While Apple is the lead player in the sector with around a 24 percent market share, it may not actually affect its business too much if it can boost sales in these final few days, assuming there is available stock,” he told CNN. “It may be able to ride out the holiday season without too much of an impact on sales.”

Apple has about a quarter of the global smartwatch market, according to Counterpoint Research—a share that tends to rise to more than a third in the fourth quarter during the U.S. and European holiday sales seasons. Both the Series 9 and the Ultra 2 would remain available for purchase outside of the United States, including during the Lunar New Year season in Asia.

Apple’s stock price was down about 0.66 percent by midday trading.

The move comes after several Chinese state agencies and state-backed companies asked staff not to bring Apple’s iPhones or other foreign devices to work, it was reported Friday. The move drew a response from the White House in September, with a press secretary saying the U.S. government is “watching this with concern.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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