After 3PM ET on December 21st, you won’t be able to buy the Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2. The last day for pickup or delivery of these models from Apple’s retail stores is December 24th. The reason? The company says it’s to preemptively comply with an ITC import ban following a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo over its SpO2 sensor.
The news was first reported by 9to5Mac, and Apple confirmed the news to The Verge. The ban only affects the flagship Series 9 and Ultra 2 models. Since the Apple Watch SE does not have the SpO2 sensor, it remains unaffected. Previous models of the Apple Watch with the blood oxygen sensor will also not be impacted. The ITC ban also only impacts sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 within the US — the watches will still be available for sale abroad.
The patent disputes between Apple and Masimo have been thorny over the past few years. Masimo is most well known for its pulse oximeter. Masimo filed two separate cases — one with the US District Court in the Central District of California and a second with the ITC —claiming that Apple infringed on its pulse oximetry tech. This particular import ban is a result of the latter.
In a statement provided to both 9to5Mac and The Verge, Apple spokesperson Nikki Rothberg says it “strongly disagrees” with the order and is “pursuing a range of legal and technical options to ensure that Apple Watch is available to customers.”
Right now, it’s unclear whether the ITC import ban will stand. It’s currently undergoing a presidential review period, and President Joe Biden will have the opportunity to veto the ban. Presidential vetos, however, are uncommon though Apple has benefitted from them in the past. In 2013, former President Barack Obama vetoed an ITC import ban on the iPhone 4 and certain iPad models. That said, Biden chose to uphold another ITC ruling, which would see Apple Watch imports banned over the EKG feature. The presidential review period ends December 25th, so we’ll have to see if things change between now and then.
“Should the order stand, Apple will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible,” Rothberg says. That would likely include an appeal in the Federal Circuit.