Apple halting Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 sales this week over patent dispute — what it means for you

a photo of the Apple Watch 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Future)

If you were planning on buying a new Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you might want to do it now. Both models are being pulled from Apple's shelves following an ITC patent dispute ruling.

As reported by 9to5Mac, two of the best smartwatches you can buy will no longer be available from after 3 p.m. on Thursday December 21. Shoppers will have until December 24 to purchase the devices in-store, coming up right to the Christmas deadline.

The impending removal is the result of ITC decision from October, in which the commission upheld an earlier ruling that Apple infringed on a medical technology company's patent. The company, Masimo, first claimed patent infringement on Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor technology in 2020 — the year Apple Watch Series 6 debuted with a SpO2 reader. 

In a statement provided to 9to5Mac, Apple said it's, "preemptively taking steps to comply" to the ruling, even though the case is currently sitting in the 60-day Presidential Review Period. The Biden administration could decide to veto the ruling up to December 25, up to end of the review period.

And if the ruling stands? Apple said it, "will continue to take all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible."

What the potential Apple Watch ban means for you

With the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 potentially leaving stores, there's obvious cause for concern. The Apple Watch is an incredibly popular product, holding over 50% of the global smartwatch market.

That said, the ruling prohibits Apple from selling these Apple Watch devices directly to customers. For now, both watches will remain available from third-party retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy while supplies last.

The ban also doesn't impact the Apple Watch SE (2022), which doesn't have the blood oxygen sensor at the center of the patent infringement dispute. The SE is what we'd call the best Apple Watch in terms of value, so it's a worthwhile purchase even before considering the recall. 

How long could the recall last?

If the 60-day Presidential Review Period expires on December 25, then Apple will be able to appeal the decision once more. But during the appeal decision, the watches will remained banned from Apple Stores.

Assuming Apple will be eager to get the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 back on shelves, it's likely the company will seek a settlement or licensing agreement with Masimo. The other option is to redesign the components to be different enough from the Masimo technology to avoid infringement.  

Either way, this is not the last time we'll hear about this patent ruling or the product bans. 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.