Apple will pause sales of its flagship smartwatches online and at retail locations starting Christmas Eve. The patent case lost by Apple over the technology in its smartwatches to detect pulse rate led to the pause in sales. Apple was ordered to stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 after Christmas. The ruling was made by the International Trade Commission in October, following a finding that several Apple Watches infringe on patents held by Masimo, a medical technology company in Irvine, Calif. Masimo detailed how Apple released a watch with pulse oximeter capabilities that were patented by Masimo, after poaching its employees.
In order to avoid a complete sales ban, Apple had two months to cut a deal with Masimo to license its technology, or it could appeal to the Biden administration to reverse the ruling. However, Masimo’s chief executive, Joe Kiani, stated that Apple had not engaged in licensing negotiations and instead appealed to President Biden to veto the I.T.C. ruling. Kiani said that Apple is trying to make the agency look like it’s helping patent trolls. Apple disagreed with the order and is pursuing legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.
Masimo is willing to sell Apple a chip that it designed to provide pulse oximeter readings on the Apple Watch, and stated that they would help Apple make their product better, and once it’s good enough, they would provide a license. The Apple Watch accounts for nearly $20 billion of Apple’s annual sales, and the company is the largest smartwatch seller in the world. Apple has had success persuading presidents to veto I.T.C. rulings in the past.