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These two Apple Watches are now banned in the U.S.

watchOS 10 Smart Stack widgets on the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Apple halted the sales of two Apple Watch models earlier this month following a court ruling that the company violated patent laws. Apple’s last hope was the White House, which could offer the company a respite from a sales and import ban with a veto order. However, Apple didn’t get any such relief from the Biden Administration on the sales ban covering the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

In an executive release issued by President Biden’s office, the White House has decided to uphold the sales ban suggested by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). The Office of the United States Trade Representative conducted the final review of the U.S. ITC’s verdict, which concluded that Apple infringed on patented technology owned by Masimo and Cercacor Labs.

As of December 26, the U.S. ITC’s decision is in official effect, which means Apple can no longer sell two of its latest smartwatches in the U.S. or import units into its home market. The sales ban covers Apple’s offline and online sales channels, but the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 remain available from third-party outlets such as Amazon and Best Buy.

However, that status quo remains only as long as supplies last. Once current inventories run out, retailers won’t be able to get additional Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 units so long as the ban is in effect.

Exercise data showing on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple strongly disagrees with the U.S. ITC’s decision and plans to get the order reversed with an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. At the center of the tech is the sensor technology that allows measurement of blood oxygen saturation level. This feature is the reason for the sales halt order given by the United States International Trade Commission due to an extensive patent lawsuit initiated by Masimo, a major medical technology company.

In January 2023, a U.S. ITC judge found Apple guilty of infringing on Masimo’s patents related to pulse oximeter technology. Initially, the court did not impose a sales ban but indicated that an import ban was possible. Apple experienced a bit of legal reprieve when a court invalidated some of Masimo’s patent claims.

The situation escalated when Apple filed a lawsuit against Masimo, alleging that it copied the Apple Watch. Subsequently, in the same month, the U.S. ITC reaffirmed its January decision, confirming that Apple had infringed on at least one of Masimo’s patents.

The sales ban is disheartening for potential buyers who sought to purchase the Apple Watch Series 9 or the Apple Watch Ultra 2. But there’s more bad news. According to Bloomberg, Apple has informed its customer services team that replacements and repairs of out-of-warranty smartwatches dating as far back as the Apple Watch Series 6 (excluding the affordable SE models) will be paused as long as the sales ban is in effect.

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Nadeem Sarwar
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