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Today is the last day for Joe Biden to keep the Apple Watch on shelves

Author: David Goldman Source: CNN:::
December 25, 2023 at 11:24
The Apple Watch Series 9 on display in store on September 22 in Milan, Italy. Ming Yeung/Getty Images
The Apple Watch Series 9 on display in store on September 22 in Milan, Italy. Ming Yeung/Getty Images

Today is the last day for President Biden to keep the top-of-the-line devices on shelves
CNN — The clock is winding down on a last-minute, emergency action to keep the latest Apple Watch on store shelves.

President Joe Biden has until the end of Christmas day to overturn a US International Trade Commission ruling that will prevent Apple from selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, among other newer models, because they violate patents registered to another company. But it appears unlikely he’ll intervene.

Apple has already taken the offending Watch models off its online store, and Apple Store locations are expected to open Tuesday without any of the latest top-of-the-line watches in stock. The cheaper Apple Watch SE, which was not part of the ruling, remains on sale, but the ban would affect the Apple Watch Series 6 and later, and all models of Apple Watch Ultra.

In October, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Apple was in violation of a pulse oximeter patent, which uses light-based technology to read blood-oxygen levels. Masimo, a medical device maker, holds the patent in question.

Apple has routinely marketed its smartwatch as a life-saving device, which has helped launch the Apple Watch into the stratosphere, making it the most popular watch sold around the world. But its skirmish with Masimo threatens to undermine that.

On December 18, Apple opted to preemptively begin taking the Series 9 and Ultra 2 versions of the Apple Watch out of stock in anticipation of the ruling kicking in. Without intervention from Biden, the 60-day review period on the ITC’s ruling ends Monday.

“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,” the company said in a statement at the time. But Apple (AAPL) also pledged to “take all measures” to bring the Apple Watch back to US customers soon.

The company may be able to make software tweaks, perhaps changing the way the Watch interacts with the pulse oximeter so that it does not violate Masimo’s patent. But such a change could take time, and there’s no guarantee that the ITC will accept Apple’s potential solution.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani told CNN he believes Apple deliberately infringed on his company’s patents. But the companies have been at loggerheads for years. In October 2022, Apple filed two patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo.

Although an intervention from Biden appears unlikely, there is some precedent for it. In 2013, President Barack Obama vetoed an ITC ruling to ban older iPhones and iPads after it determined Apple was in violation of one of Samsung’s patents.

CNN’s Samantha Kelly contributed to this report.

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