Apple Faces Patent Infringement Ban on Its Latest Smartwatches

Apple has announced that it will stop selling its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US market, following an order from the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that found the devices violated the patent rights of medical technology company Masimo. The order, which was issued in October 2023, will take effect on January 8, 2024, unless it is overturned by the US President or a federal court.

Masimo, which specializes in non-invasive monitoring technologies, accused Apple of infringing on its patents related to measuring blood oxygen levels and heart rate using light sensors. Masimo claimed that Apple hired some of its former employees and used its confidential information to develop its own health features for the Apple Watch.

Apple denied the allegations and said that it believes the ITC’s finding was erroneous, should be reversed and that it intends to appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit. Apple also said that it will continue to sell its other smartwatch models, such as the Series 8 and the Ultra 1, in the US.

Apple Watch

How will this affect Apple and its customers?

The ban on the Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches could have a significant impact on Apple’s sales and reputation, as these are the latest and most advanced models in its product line. The Series 9 and Ultra 2 were launched in September 2023, with features such as a larger and brighter display, a faster processor, a longer battery life, and a more durable design.

The Series 9 and Ultra 2 also offer exclusive health and fitness capabilities, such as measuring blood oxygen levels, taking an electrocardiogram (ECG), detecting falls, and tracking various workouts. These features have been praised by critics and customers alike, as they provide useful and potentially life-saving information about one’s well-being.

According to analysts, the Series 9 and Ultra 2 accounted for about 40% of Apple’s smartwatch sales in the US in the fourth quarter of 2023, and the ban could cost the company up to $2 billion in lost revenue in 2024. The ban could also damage Apple’s brand image and customer loyalty, as some users may switch to other smartwatch brands or opt for older models that lack the latest features.

What are the alternatives to the Series 9 and Ultra 2?

For customers who are looking for a smartwatch that can measure blood oxygen levels and heart rate, there are some alternatives to the Series 9 and Ultra 2 that are available in the US market. Some of these include:

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: This smartwatch runs on Google’s Wear OS platform and offers features such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, fall detection, and sleep tracking. It also has a rotating bezel for easy navigation and a sleek design.
  • Fitbit Sense: This smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and offers features such as blood oxygen monitoring, ECG, stress management, and skin temperature sensing. It also has a long battery life and a large display.
  • Garmin Venu 2: This smartwatch is designed for fitness enthusiasts and offers features such as blood oxygen monitoring, heart rate variability, body battery, and advanced workout modes. It also has a high-resolution touchscreen and a durable build.

However, none of these alternatives can match the seamless integration and compatibility that the Apple Watch offers with other Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The Apple Watch also has a unique ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories that enhance its functionality and appeal.

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