Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 go back on sale … for now


Apple Watch Ultra 2
Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9 are on the ban's hit list.
Photo: Apple

After a federal court granted a temporary pause on the Apple Watch ban Wednesday, Apple returned Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 to select store shelves, with online store sales expected to resume Thursday — for a short time, at least.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted a temporary stay until January 10. Apple requested the pause after the Biden administration confirmed Tuesday it won’t overturn the ban, put in place through a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling.

Apple Watch 9 and Ulta 2 back on sale after Federal Court pauses ITC ban

ITC’s ruling to ban U.S. imports and sales of Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 as of December 26 stems from a long-running patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo over blood-oxygen analysis technology.

“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” Apple said in a statement, according to Reuters. “Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, including the blood oxygen feature, will become available for purchase again in the United States at Apple Stores starting today and from tomorrow by 12 pm PT.”

In the dispute, Masimo alleges Apple unlawfully used the company’s pulse-oximetry tech, starting with Apple Watch Series 6. In January, a judge ruled against Apple in the case, opening up the possibility of import and sales bans on current Apple Watch models.

The Biden administration had 60 days to review the ITC ruling. In the end, it decided not to intervene.

“After careful consultations, Ambassador Tai decided not to reverse the ITC’s determination and the ITC’s decision became final on December 26, 2023,” ITC noted.

Ban applies only to Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2

Apple Watch blood oxygen sensor
The dispute with Masimo concerns patents related to the wearables’ blood-oxygen sensor.
Photo: Graham Bower

Apple decided to halt sales last week in its online store, just ahead of ITC’s ban, leading to speculation that Cupertino hoped its apparent cooperation might influence the Biden administration to veto the ban, which covers only current models with the technology — Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 — sold in the United States.

The ban halts sales of those models in the Apple Store online and at Apple Store retail locations. It also affects repairs on those models. Third-party sellers can exhaust their remaining stock. And Apple Watch SE, which does not include the blood oxygen sensor, is the only new model to remain on sale.

Court grants temporary halt after Apple’s appeal

“We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters and other media outlets.

The iPhone giant, which has been trying to come up with a software solution to the patent dispute, filed an emergency request Tuesday for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to stop the ban, at least temporarily, to see if changes to software will resolve the dispute.

According to Reuters:

It asked the Federal Circuit to pause the ban at least until U.S. Customs and Border Protection decides whether redesigned versions of its watches infringe Masimo’s patents, and to put the ban on hold while the court considers Apple’s request. The customs office is due to make its decision on Jan. 12, Apple said.

During the temporary stay on the ban, the court will review Apple’s request for a longer pause during the appeals process and ITC will have a chance to respond.


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