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Apple

​Apple product banned after dispute ​

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: News Corp Australia Network:
December 22, 2023 at 07:12
Some models of the Apple Watch will no longer be available for sale in the US due to an ongoing patent dispute. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.
Some models of the Apple Watch will no longer be available for sale in the US due to an ongoing patent dispute. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.

Apple has been forced to pull two of its newest smartwatch models from stores amid an ongoing patent dispute.

Apple Inc. has stopped selling some of its newest smartwatch models on its online store days before a sales ban over a patent dispute comes into effect.

The tech giant has also announced it will no longer be able to repair or replace any smartwatches that are out-of-warranty.

It all ties back to a US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling – in October – that the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models violated two health-technology patents related to blood-oxygen sensing, which are held by Masimo Corp.
 

Some models of the Apple Watch will no longer be available for sale in the US due to an ongoing patent dispute. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.
Some models of the Apple Watch will no longer be available for sale in the US due to an ongoing patent dispute. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.

That decision may still be overturned, pending a review due by December 25, but Apple has removed the watch models from its US online store as of December 21, Bloomberg reports. 

Apple will end sales of the watches at about 270 physical stores across the US on December 24.

Sales will continue at Apple’s international online and in-person stores, as will sales for models that do not contain the blood-oxygen sensor, like the Apple Watch SE model. 

In another roadblock for the tech giant, Apple’s customer service teams were reportedly informed in a memo that the company will no longer replace out-of-warranty smartwatch models, going back to the Apple Watch Series 6.
The move means if a customer has, for example, a broken watch face, they cannot get it fixed by Apple and the watch cannot be replaced. Generally, before the ban, Apple was unable to fix hardware issues with the smartwatches and would replace the unit, instead, according to Bloomberg.

Apple will, however, still offer help for software issues, like reinstalling a watch’s operating system, after the change.

Company representatives were reportedly told to tell affected customers that they will be contacted when hardware replacements are allowed again.

The decision to stop replacements affects most new watches sold since 2020 – including the Series 6 through 9 and Ultra models – all of which include the blood-oxygen sensing feature that the ITC ruled violated Masimo’s patent. 

 

Most models of the Apple Watch sold since 2020 will be affected by another memo to stop replacing watches with damaged hardware. Picture: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images North America / AFP.
Most models of the Apple Watch sold since 2020 will be affected by another memo to stop replacing watches with damaged hardware. Picture: Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images North America / AFP.
 

Masimo chief executive officer Joe Kiani said the ITC ruling “sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law”.

Watches purchased before December 25 – when the ban comes into effect in the US – and models that are still under warranty are not affected by the replacement ban. 

Bloomberg said after December 25, Apple will not be able to exchange a watch purchased before the ban for a different colour or size during the normal return period.

A product swap also will not be allowed, but Apple will replace accessories like bands. Watches can still be returned for a refund.

Apple employees were told not to inform customers about Apple Watch supplies at third-aprty retailers, though those stocks will remain available until the supply in the US runs out.

When it does, Apple will not be allowed to import more watches – which are made overseas – until after the ITC order is lifted.

It will be lifted if Apple reaches a licensing agreement with Masimo, gets a federal reprieve or fixes the problem.
 

Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models will still be available to purchase in the US through third-party retailers until stock runs out. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models will still be available to purchase in the US through third-party retailers until stock runs out. Picture: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP.
 

Apple engineers are reportedly already working to make changes to algorithms in the smartwatches, according to Bloomberg, including by changing how the technology determines blood-oxygen levels and presents the data to users.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on other technical and legal options if the ban continues, including by distributing new marketing materials to stores that promote the Apple Watch without showing the Series 9 or Ultra 2.

An Apple spokesperson did not comment on Bloomberg’s report when contacted by Reuters, but later said the company was working on “technical options” to ensure Apple Watches were available to customers. 

The spokesperson told Reuters the company would take “all measures” to get the devices back to shelves if the ITC order stands after December 25 – the deadline for a review by President Joe Biden.

But the ban is likely to hold, given a presidential administration has not overruled an ITC ruling since 2013, when President Barack Obama’s administration overturned an import ban on Apple’s iPhones and iPads from a patent dispute with Samsung.

The Biden administration has already chosen not to veto another import ban on Apple Watches based on another patent infringement complaint from medical technology company AliveCor, Reuters reports.

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