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Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 Face Imminent Ban

  • Apple has announced that it will stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 this week to comply with a ban from the International Trade Commission.
  • The ITC found that Apple violated Masimo patents related to technology used to perform blood oxygen readings on the premium models.
  • Apple is reportedly racing to make changes to the software algorithms that allow the wearable to measure the user’s blood oxygen level.

Apple on Monday made a surprising Apple Watch announcement in the final week of Christmas shopping. The International Trade Commission (ITC) found that Apple violated Masimo patents related to technology used to perform blood oxygen readings on the premium models. Apple is reportedly racing to make changes to the software algorithms that allow the wearable to measure the user’s blood oxygen level, however, it seems unlikely that the software fix will be ready in time for the December 25th ban date.

Sources familiar with Apple’s problems have informed Bloomberg that Apple engineers plan changes to how oxygen saturation is determined and how that information is provided to customers. The updates should remove the technology that is violating Masimo’s patents, however, Masimo told Bloomberg that it doesn’t believe a software change is enough to prevent the Apple Watch ban.

An Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg that it’s working to submit a workaround, indicating Apple believes there’s a way to fix the patent-infringing problem without changing the hardware. The ITC ordered the ban in October, and it’s unclear why Apple is racing to fix the issue now rather than having started as soon as the ITC issued its ruling. The simpler route might be licensing the technology from Masimo, however, there’s no indication that settlement talks are in order.

If you want to buy an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 in time for Christmas, your best bet is getting one from Apple right now. Sales will stop this week both in retail stores and online. After December 25th, only the Apple Watch SE 2 will be available from Apple, and the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will be available internationally. The company will likely appeal the ITC’s ruling, especially if President Biden’s administration won’t veto the ban.

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