Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2 sales resume after federal appeals court pauses ban

Apple Watch Ultra 2
(Image credit: Future)

Two days after Apple was forced to remove both the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 from store shelves, the wearables are set to return after a federal appeals court instituted a pause. Though for how long remains unclear. 

Nonetheless, for now, both watches will be back to buy in some physical Apple stores today, with wider availability expected by the weekend. For those that prefer to shop online, sales will resume on from 3 p.m ET today, the company says.

“We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year,” the company told Tom’s Guide. 

“Apple’s teams have worked tirelessly over many years to develop technology that empowers users with industry-leading health, wellness and safety features and we are pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal.”

 What happened, and is that the end of it? 

If you’ve been too wrapped up with holiday activities to follow the story, Apple was initially banned from selling the Series 9 and Ultra 2 after the US International Trade Commission found that both products violated patents concerning blood-oxygen monitoring from the medical device maker Masimo. 

That meant that the only wearable available to post-Christmas shoppers visiting the company’s stores was the Apple Watch SE, which doesn’t support the feature, and was thus immune from the court order. While third-party retailers with existing stock were unaffected, Apple staff were reportedly not permitted to share this information with would-be buyers.

The resumption of business is technically a pause on the sales ban, rather than the end of it. The next showdown date is January 12, when the US Customs is set to rule on whether software changes made to the Apple Watch are sufficient to settle the matter. 

If the court decides that they aren’t — Masimo maintains it's about the core hardware, and not something that can be patched away — the ban could be put on hold until it finally rules on the patent dispute, which may take months.

Should the court ultimately decide against Apple, it puts the company in a tricky position where it might have to change the hardware within future wearables, or else pay a hefty fee to licence the existing technology. 

Neither would be a happy outcome for Apple, as it approaches the tenth birthday of the original Apple Watch’s unveiling. But unfortunately for the company, this story isn’t over yet.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.