Apple Watch pulled from shelves over patent ruling

Apple has already stopped selling the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 online, and will be taking them off store shelves in the coming days. The company is warehousing the gadgets because another company, Masimo, convinced the U.S. International Trade Commission to block imports on the grounds that it infringes patents Masimo holds on measuring blood oxygen, a feature of the high-end devices.

The companies are doing legal battle in several different venues, with the ITC ruling following a mistrial in federal court after Masimo failed to convince a jury of its claims. Apple has separately sued Masimo for patent infringement. The Verge's Emma Roth explains a complex web of litigation. On the most obvious question, Masimo is not a non-practising entity (i.e. it's not a patent troll) and has various similar medical products on offer.

This particular story started about 10 years ago when Apple reached out to Masimo about a potential partnership around blood oxygen features on its wearables. Soon after, Apple reportedly poached several Masimo engineers and its chief medical officer. And then in fall 2020, Apple released the Apple Watch Series 6 — its first Apple Watch to feature an SpO2 sensor to measure blood oxygen saturation levels.Because the patent dispute relates to the SpO2 sensor specifically, Apple can continue to sell its more affordable Apple Watch SE, which does not come equipped with the sensor. The feature debuted on the Apple Watch Series 6 released in 2020 and has appeared in every flagship Apple smartwatch since. Apple has also pulled refurbished versions of two prior watches with SpO2 sensors, the Series 7 and Series 8, from its online store. Two special editions of the Series 9, the Apple Watch Nike and Apple Watch Hermès, have also been pulled.