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| 2 minutes read

Apple halting newest watch sales before Christmas

The festive season is upon us, and with it comes the things we all expect this time of year: the John Lewis advert, mulled wine, Christmas markets, and the list goes on. One thing I have come to expect this time of year that never fails to bring out my festive side is a legal dispute, such as between M&S and Aldi after the last Christmas period. 

In keeping with tradition, last holiday season a judgement was released against Apple watches by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US. In that case, Apple was sued by AliveCor over the electrocardiogram in their watches and a ruling in AliveCor's favour was announced. However, due to the number of cases between Apple and AliveCor, enforcement of the decision is still postponed. 

This year's festive case is a bit different, as a recent court ruling in the US by the International Trade Commission (ITC) has resulted in Apple planning to stop the sales of its two most recent watch models. The watches feature a blood oxygen sensor that was found to infringe a patent held by Masimo who sought legal recourse from the ITC a year after Apple announced the sensor in 2020. While Apple can still file an appeal against the decision, in the meantime, they will stop online sales of the infringing models of watches in 2 days time and stop importing the watch after Christmas day. 

Given that online sales are stopping so close to Christmas, it seems unlikely that holiday sales for the watches will be affected. If anything, Apple's plan to stop selling the watches so late in the season could cause a final surge in purchases that they wouldn't otherwise see, as the watches might suddenly soar in value since they will become scarcer in the new year. 

An older case with a different end was that of Amazon vs. Barnes and Noble in 1999 in which Amazon sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Barnes and Noble from using what they alleged was a copy of Amazon's “one-click" purchase design that they had patented. The district court that granted the injunction acknowledged that their ruling should be made before the holiday shopping season which, considering November and December can account for over 21% of the annual revenue of US bookstores, would have had a large impact on the revenue of Barnes and Noble.

The first lesson from these cases is that winning a costly case might not always have the desired outcome immediately, and talking to a professional as soon as possible will help manage and inform your expectations. The second lesson is to not leave your Christmas shopping too late in case there is an unexpected surge in the market.

Tech giant loses a patent dispute to Masimo over the gadget’s blood oxygen sensor


litigation & disputes, medical technologies, patents, yes