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Apple Watch Series 9 & Ultra 2 Unavailable: ITC Ban Explained

The Apple Watch Series 9 and the Ultra 2 Watch Series 9 are no longer up for purchase on Apple’s online store. Additionally, since December 24, these products are no longer stocked in Apple’s physical retail stores. Let me explain the reasons behind this development.

Why the Apple Watch Faces Restrictions:

Apple removed the watch models from its site as per a US International Trade Commission (ITC) order.

The ITC imposed the ban following a lawsuit by Masimo, a medical tech company. The allegations centered on Apple infringing on five patents related to light-based blood oxygen monitoring. In October, the ITC upheld a judge’s earlier ruling that confirmed Apple’s violation of Masimo’s patents. Both affected models have the feature, but older ones aren’t part of the sales ban. Apple introduced blood oxygen monitoring with the Watch Series 6.

Despite Apple’s appeal and request to halt the ban during the appeal process, the ITC rejected the plea. Unless the president intervenes, the ban stands. The US Trade Representative is also reviewing the ITC’s decision, with the possibility of disapproval based on policy grounds.

In 2020, Masimo accused Apple of stealing trade secrets, claiming the company hired Masimo employees to develop the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen monitoring capabilities. This ongoing case adds complexity to the situation.

Why the Apple Watch Faces Restrictions:

Apple’s Response to the Ban:

In anticipation, Apple removed the watch models from its websites on December 21 and from retail outlets on December 24. The import ban, effective on December 26, followed the end of the Presidential Review Period on December 25, without a veto.

Apple expressed its disagreement with the order earlier this month, emphasizing its commitment to health, wellness, and safety features. The company assured it’s actively pursuing legal and technical avenues to make the Apple Watch available to customers. Despite filing patent infringement lawsuits against Masimo in 2022, Apple might face a waiting game if the ban remains unaltered.

There’s a possibility of an agreement between Apple and Masimo, potentially involving a monetary settlement. Although Masimo’s CEO is open to such a resolution, Apple hasn’t initiated negotiations yet. Bloomberg reports suggest Apple is also developing a software update in hopes of resolving the ITC dispute.

How to Secure an Apple Watch Amidst the Ban:

Consider the brand’s older models or the Apple SE, sans the blood oxygen monitor. Third-party retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, or Walmart, might still offer the affected models this holiday season due to existing stock. With the import ban in place, these retailers can only sell their current inventory. If they run out, patience or a potential getaway to Mexico or Canada may be your best option.

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