Apple Forced to Halt Production on Highly Anticipated Watches

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Dec 29, 2023

Three months ago, Apple revealed its latest line of smartwatches, the Watch Ultra 2 and the Watch Series 9, to the world, branding them as “advanced” and “capable.”

Yet, the tech empire has been forced to halt the sales of both watches after receiving an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Apple Press Release Confrims News

On Tuesday, Apple revealed that its highly anticipated watches would no longer be available in-store after Christmas Eve (or online from Dec. 21 onward) due to an unforeseen problem.

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Apple's new Watch Series 9 pictured with its white, orange, and blue strap

Source: @MacRumors/Twitter

According to Apple, the prolonging of the release comes following “an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute.”

Watches Monitor Blood Oxygen Levels

Apple later shed light on the issue, claiming it had received an order from the Trades Commission to halt the sales.

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Apple Watch Series 9 shows off new blood oxygen meter tracker

Source: @MacRumors/Twitter

The tech giant claims it’s all centered on a feature in the newest smartwatches that allows users to monitor their blood oxygen levels.

U.S. Judge Claims Apple Infringed Patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission, a federal agency that handles trade-related matters, issued the order after a U.S. judge ruled Apple had infringed on Masimo Patents, a medical technology company.

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American judge hits his hammer as he stands at a wooden desk with an American flag

Source: Freepik

According to the judge, the technology used in Apple’s blood oxygen sensing system was copied from a popular Masimo product.

Watches on Pause for the Meantime

The order is currently under appeal with the Biden administration. However, Apple preemptively halted selling its newest watches in case the decision is upheld.

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Two friends pictured wearing different versions of Apple watches

Source: @thatbobpr/Twitter

The potential infringement of patents was first reported this past Monday. Since then, Apple has confirmed its decision to various media outlets. The company said in a statement, “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” (via The New York Times).

Working to Fix the Problem

The tech company claims it’s doing everything possible to ensure the watches appear back in stores as soon as possible.

Couple sit on concrete steps as the male tries to set up his new Apple smartwatch

Source: Freepik

“Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement (via TechCrunch).

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One of the Brand's Best Sellers

Apple’s smartwatches are among the most important products sold by the tech giant. They helped push the company’s wearables to become the second-largest category behind the iPhone.

A customer takes photos of Apple Watch smartwatches at an Apple Store at Lujiazui in Pudong District, China

Source: Qiu Daocen/VCG via Getty Images

According to the tech giant’s marketing team, the size of its wearables unit alone equals that of a Fortune 150 company.

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Get It While You Can

While Apple didn’t immediately halt the sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches, by the end of the day on December 24, they will stop selling the new products in stores.

The Apple Watch is displayed at an Apple Store on November 02, 2023 in Corte Madera, California.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Ordering of the watches from their online store was halted on Dec. 21, pending the outcome of the appeal.

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Apple Are Pursuing Legal Options

“Apple’s teams work tirelessly to create products and services that empower users with industry-leading health, wellness, and safety features,” the company said in its statement.

Lawyer meets with his clients and takes down notes in a leatherbound notebook

Source: Freepik

Making a deal with Masimo unfortunately doesn’t seem like an option. The rival company alleged in court that Apple took key employees and executives in addition to the technology (per The New York Times).

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Couldn't Come at a Worse Time

The pause in Apple Watch sales comes at a typically incredibly busy period for the tech company.

Christmas presents sit beneath a well-lit Christmas tree full of decorations

Source: Freepik

Smartwatches are among the top products sold during the critical holiday session, from Black Friday to Christmas.

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Restoring Fairness in the Market

While Apple plans to pursue legal options to ensure they can safely begin to sell its newest batch of smartwatches, not everyone agrees with their practices.

Image of the popular Masimo health smartwatch in a sleek black design

Source: Masimo

When the judge’s ruling was made in January, Masimo CEO Joe Kiani said the decision “should help restore fairness in the market.”

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Available Through Other Retailers

The order from the Trades Commission affects the sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 through Apple specifically.

Apple watches on display inside a popular electronic retailer

Source: Mardis Coers/Getty Images

While it prohibits Apple from importing these watches and selling them to resellers, consumers may be able to find one of the products from independent retailers for a limited time.

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