Why has the latest Apple Watch been removed from sale? 

Following the discovery of patent rights violations, Apple will cease the sale of its latest watches in the US. An order preventing the sales and imports of watches featuring the disputed blood oxygen function is set to be enforced on December 26. 

Despite Apple’s intention to appeal the decision, it has chosen to proactively remove the devices from its US website on December 21 and from stores in the country post-Christmas Eve. Sales in other regions remain unaffected.

Apple expressed strong disagreement with the order and said that it is committed to exploring legal and technical avenues to ensure the availability of the Apple Watch to customers. 

The dispute originated from conflicts with California-based medical device companies Masimo and its spin-off, Cercacor. These companies accused Apple of recruiting key personnel and employing other tactics to misappropriate technology for measuring blood oxygen levels.

Most editions of Apple’s smartwatches, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, have included the disputed feature since 2020, with the SE model being an exception. 

In October, the US International Trade Commission concurred that Apple had infringed on certain patent rights, issuing an order to prohibit specific imports.

Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, emphasized the order’s significance, asserting that it conveyed a powerful message about accountability even for the world’s largest company.

The International Trade Commission’s order is subject to a 60-day review by the president, concluding on December 25, with the possibility of a veto. 

While presidential intervention doesn’t happen that often, it has occurred in the past. For example, former President Obama intervened on Apple’s behalf in a separate dispute in 2013. 

Apple plans to challenge the International Trade Court’s decision and seek a suspension of the order during the appeal process.

This legal battle is part of an ongoing conflict between Apple and Masimo concerning oxygen technology, with Apple filing its own patent infringement claims against Masimo. A jury trial on Masimo’s theft allegations resulted in a mistrial earlier in the year. 

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