Friday, March 1, 2024

Apple Faces Hurdles as US Administration Upholds Ban on Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 Sales

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In a recent turn of events, Apple is no longer able to sell its popular Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the United States, following the decision of President Joe Biden’s administration not to veto the ban imposed by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The repercussions were swift, with Apple removing both devices from its official website on December 21st and subsequently clearing its store shelves after December 24th. A statement from the Office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, as reported by CNBC, revealed that after “careful consideration,” the agency opted not to reverse the ITC’s determination.

Responding to the ban, an unnamed Apple spokesperson conveyed the company’s disagreement with the USITC decision and the resulting exclusion order. In a statement published by Reuters, the spokesperson confirmed that Apple is actively appealing the ITC ruling and is committed to taking all necessary measures to expedite the return of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S.

The ITC had initiated the ban after determining that Apple had infringed on the blood oxygen saturation technology patented by Masimo. Additionally, the commission mandated Apple to cease the sale of any previously-imported devices equipped with the contested technology. Despite Apple’s attempts to block the decision during the appeal process, the ITC denied the request, leaving the possibility of a presidential veto as the last intervention avenue.

As of now, the ban exclusively impacts Apple’s own stores in the US. Consumers, however, still have the option to purchase the Watch Series 9 or Watch Ultra 2 from alternative retailers such as Best Buy and Target while supplies last. Meanwhile, Apple is permitted to continue selling the Watch SE, given its absence of a blood oxygen sensor.

The future course of action for Apple remains uncertain. One option involves making software modifications to the blood oxygen sensor on both watches. Another approach considers disabling the sensor on imported devices. Nevertheless, these alternatives may fall short of appeasing the ITC. In light of these challenges, the possibility of Apple opting for a settlement with Masimo is also on the table.

As the tech giant grapples with this setback, the industry and consumers alike are keenly observing how Apple will navigate these challenges and potentially redefine its approach to incorporating patented technologies in its future devices. The ban, albeit limited to the US, underscores the complex intersection of intellectual property, technology, and regulatory oversight, leaving both Apple and its competitors to contemplate the broader implications for the rapidly evolving landscape of wearable technology.

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