Apple halts some Watch sales in the US

Apple will stop selling its latest watches in the US, after the US found it had violated patent rights.

An order barring sales and imports of watches with the disputed blood oxygen feature is due to go into effect on 26 December.

Apple has said it plans to appeal the decision but would “pre-emptively” remove the devices from its US site 21 December and from stores in the country after Christmas Eve.

Sales elsewhere are not affected.

“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,” Apple said.

The issue stems from a dispute with California-based medical device firms Masimo and spin-off Cercacor, which have accused the iPhone giant of poaching key staff and taking other steps to steal technology it developed to measure oxygen levels in the blood.

Most versions of the company’s smart watches, including the Series 9 and Ultra 2, have included the feature since 2020. The SE model of the watch does not.

In October, the US’s International Trade Commission said it agreed that Apple had violated some patent rights and issued an order barring certain imports.

At the time Masimo chief Joe Kiani said it sent a “powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law”.

The International Trade Commission order is subject to a 60-day review by the president, who has the power to veto the decision.

That review period is due to end 25 December.

Intervention is typically rare, though former president Barack Obama did intervene on behalf of Apple in a different dispute in 2013.

Apple has also said it will appeal the International Trade Court decision and ask for the order to be suspended while the appeal is decided.

The dispute is part of a broader fight with Masimo over the oxygen technology.

Apple has separately filed its own claims of patent infringement against Masimo.

A jury trial over Masimo’s claims of theft ended in a mistrial earlier this year.

Apple shares fell more than 1% on the news, though analysts said the timing would allow holiday sales to proceed without serious damage.

The company’s wearables division, which includes the Watch, accounted for nearly $40bn, or about 10% of the firm’s overall sales in the 12 months ended 30 September.

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