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Apple Watch ban: Here's why you can't buy one this holiday season

Apple's newest devices face legal trouble.
By
December 27, 2023
An Apple Watch Series 9 rests among watch boxes.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

‘Tis the season for hitting checkout on the market’s top tech, yet one of the most popular product lines has been causing confusion. An import ban from the International Trade Commission (ITC) may keep Apple’s latest smartwatches out of your cart. Find out everything you need to know about the Apple Watch ban.

Why did Apple stop selling the Apple Watch?

Apple stopped selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in light of a ruling by the US International Trade Commission. The ITC ruled that Apple infringed on two patents from Masimo, a medical device manufacturer. This infringement, the ITC said, necessitates an import ban on the newest Apple Watch models, the Series 9 and Ultra 2, beginning December 26th. Apple preemptively removed these models from online stores on December 21st to comply with the import ban with plans to remove the devices from its brick-and-mortar stores as well.

However, on December 27, a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday paused the commission’s import ban. For now, Apple can resume sales of its flagship smartwatches. Because the infringement is related to blood oxygen monitoring, the issue has no no affect on the sale of the Apple Watch SE, which does not feature an SpO2 sensor.

What can Apple do to reverse the Apple Watch ban?

Apple Watch Series 9
Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority

According to Apple spokesperson Nikki Rothberg, the company is actively facing the issue head-on and pursuing several potential solutions.

On December 26th, President Joe Biden declined to veto the ban following a Presidential Review Period. Apple filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to pause the ban until the US Customs and Border Protection agency makes a ruling. This request was granted, so the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are available again in the United States at Apple Stores and from Apple’s website.

Apple further requested that the ban be paused until a final ruling is reached on the infringement case. On this matter, the US Customs and Border Protection agency has set a targeted decision date of January 12. The devices will remain on shelves until that time.

Do stores still sell the Apple Watch?

apple watch series 9 snoopy pointing
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

As of December 27, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 can again be purchased at Apple stores. Third-party retailers can also continue selling the devices. Once supplies run out, however, it’s not certain how long stores will have access to additional supplies.

Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple Watch Ultra 2
MSRP: $799.00

What happens when the stores run out of stock?

If the ban goes back into effect, it will prevent all parties from refilling their supply. As a last resort, shoppers may be able to find devices for resale on eBay.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Will the Apple Watch ban affect repairs?

A user holds an Apple Watch Series 7 in hand.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Apple Watch ban also affects repairs for some older models of the lineup. Before the ban was paused, the company reportedly stopped offering hardware replacements for older watch models no longer under warranty. This includes the Apple Watch 6, 7, 8, 9, Ultra, and Ultra 2. Again, the Apple Watch SE line is unaffect as it does not feature and SpO2 monitor. Apple also informed its services teams that it will stop replacing out-of-warranty watch models going back to the Apple Watch Series 6.

If the pause is lifted, it is likely that older models will be affected again.

FAQ

The Apple Watch ban will last for as long as it takes Apple to find a legal solution. The relevant patent expires in August 2028.

Notably, the Apple Watch ban only affects US sales. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are still available for purchase abroad.

The ban prevents anyone from importing an Apple Watch to the US.