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Apple Watch ban: everything you need to know

A patent infringement case is pushing for Apple to stop selling its two most recent Apple Watch models, the Series 9 and Ultra 2.

A ban came and went in December, but the court lifted its stay, so the new watches are once again banned from the US if they have the disputed blood oxygen technology. Apple has announced that new versions of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 without those features will go on sale in the morning on Thursday, January 18th.

The move came in response to an import ban handed down by the US International Trade Commission, which ruled in October that Apple infringed on patents for pulse oximetry tech made by Masimo, a medical device maker. This would mean Apple can no longer import and sell its newest Apple Watch models in the US. The company is already trying to come up with a solution to avoid the ban, but it might take a while until the dispute is completely resolved.

If you want to keep up with all the latest on Apple’s legal battle, check out the news below.

  • Tim Cook nixes the idea of licensing Masimo’s blood oxygen tech.

    Despite mixed earnings, Tim Cook doesn’t seem to be sweatin’ the Apple Watch ban. Apple Insider spotted Cook telling CNBC on a live broadcast that it’s “focused on appeal” and that customers have “lots of reasons to buy the watch even without the blood oxygen sensor.”

    Masimo CEO Joe Kiani has publicly said he hasn’t heard from Apple about potentially licensing the company’s blood oxygen tech. However, this is the first time we’ve seen Cook officially confirming it.


  • Wes Davis

    Jan 28

    Wes Davis

    You might want to be extra careful with your pre-ban Apple Watch.

    If you got a Series 9 or Ultra 2 before Apple had to remove the blood oxygen feature from new ones on January 17th, congrats!

    But if you break your watch doing parkour and replace it with AppleCare, will you lose the feature? That’s a “definite maybe,” according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. He wrote today in the subscriber version of Power On that Apple has told AppleCare reps that replacements might not have it.


  • “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the blood oxygen feature.”

    Following yesterday’s news, that’s the text now shown at the top of Apple’s Series 9 and Ultra 2 websites.


    A screenshot of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 website. A banner at the top says “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the blood oxygen feature.”
    Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge
  • Apple Watches without banned blood oxygen features are now on sale

    An Apple Watch Ultra 2 and the bottom of an Apple Watch Series 9.
    Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

    Following a lost bid to halt a ban on selling its newest Apple Watches, Apple started selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 online and in Apple Stores without blood oxygen measuring features on January 18th. A footnote on Apple’s site tells you how to identify the newer watches:

    Apple spokesperson Nikki Rothberg sent over a statement (included below) as well as information from Apple on how these devices will work. On these watches, the blood oxygen icon will still appear, but if the user taps it, they’ll see a message reading, “The Blood Oxygen app is no longer available. Learn more in the Health app on your iPhone.” In the Health app, blood oxygen is listed as “unavailable,” with a link pointing to a support article on Apple.com.

    Read Article >
  • Apple Watches with blood oxygen tech are banned again

    The Apple Watch Ultra 2 on grass.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Update January 17th, 8:52PM ET: Apple has confirmed that versions of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 without blood oxygen features will go on sale starting January 18th at 9AM ET. Our original story continues below.

    In the latest twist in Apple’s ongoing patent battle with Masimo, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied extending an interim stay on the Apple Watch ban. That means Apple will once again have to stop selling its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices that have the technology enabled starting at 5PM ET on January 18th.

    Read Article >
  • Jan 15

    Emma Roth and Alex Cranz

    Apple Watch drops blood oxygen features to dodge the import ban

    Apple Watch Series 9 with Siri pulled up
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    The blood oxygen feature is about to disappear from new Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 devices. While Apple itself has not released a statement or responded to our request for comment, both Bloomberg and 9to5Mac are reporting that the feature will be going away and that US Customs and Border Protection has approved the measure, which would allow Apple to consider selling both products after their sale was banned last year.

    The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 were both banned in the US late last year as the result of a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo. The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the blood oxygen sensors in both devices infringed on patents from Masimo.

    Read Article >
  • Apple's Watch workaround to avoid an import ban has reportedly been approved.

    Word of this comes not from US Customs, but Masimo’s own lawyers in a letter published by 9to5Mac. It says the updated watches "do not contain pulse oximetry functionality," which is a step further than last month's report that Apple engineers were working on new algorithms.

    It means Apple can continue importing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 despite the patent infringement dispute — just without blood oxygen reading features enabled.


  • Why the ITC denied staying the Apple Watch ban.

    The ITC’s opinion on the Apple Watch ban has been unsealed. You can read it at the link below, but there are no big surprises. The gist is the ITC didn’t think Apple proved it would suffer irreparable harm if the ban went through.

    But the saga isn’t over yet. Shortly after the ban went into effect, a federal appeals court issued a temporary pause, meaning you can still buy the Series 9 and Ultra. Right now, Apple’s waiting to hear back if proposed changes to the Apple Watch will render this patent beef moot.


    ITC Apple opinion

    [DocumentCloud]

  • Wes Davis

    Dec 30, 2023

    Wes Davis

    Masimo kept winning on the way to its Apple Watch fight.

    My colleague Emma Roth recently wrote about how the company’s patent fight with True Wearables helps explain Masimo’s confidence in its Apple Watch fight.

    In a profile of Joe Kiani today, The Wall Street Journal writes about still more examples. One 2016 win gave Masimo a $300 million dollar payout from Philips and a deal that “ended up generating more than $1 billion” for the company. Before that, Masimo won “nearly $800 million” in “damages and royalties” from Nellcor.


  • Emma Roth

    Dec 28, 2023

    Emma Roth

    Why Masimo thought it could take on Apple

    Close-up of Wayfinder watchface
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    For over three years now, Apple has been entrenched in a messy legal battle over a single feature on the Apple Watch — and Apple’s opponent, medical device maker Masimo, seems confident it can win. And there’s a good reason Masimo might believe that: the company came out on top when it sued True Wearables, a startup run by a former executive with a stint on the Apple Watch team, on similar grounds.

    In 2018, Masimo filed a complaint against True Wearables over claims its wireless pulse oximeter infringed on Masimo’s patent. The court sided with Masimo and issued a permanent injunction against the sale of the device in December 2022.

    Read Article >
  • Emilia David

    Dec 28, 2023

    Emilia David

    Apple is now selling Apple Watches on its website again

    Person looking at interval workout on Apple Watch Ultra 2
    Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

    Apple has resumed selling the latest Apple Watches on its website after a federal appeals court paused a sales and import ban.

    The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are now once again available on Apple’s website, a day after some physical Apple stores began selling the watches on December 27th. Apple previously told The Verge that the watches should be available widely in its physical stores by Saturday.

    Read Article >
  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Dec 27, 2023

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Apple resumes Apple Watch sales after ban is paused

    Double tap gesture menu on Series 9
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    You can once again buy the latest Apple Watches straight from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will be available again in some physical Apple stores starting today, with wider availability expected by Saturday. Online sales will resume tomorrow by 3PM ET, Apple spokesperson Nikki Rothberg told The Verge.

    The restarting of sales comes hours after a federal appeals court paused a sales and import ban that covered both devices. Apple was banned from selling both products in the US after the US International Trade Commission found that the company had violated patents from the medical device maker Masimo.

    Read Article >
  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Dec 27, 2023

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Apple Watch ban temporarily paused

    Iphone moving message in Precision Finding feature on the screen
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Apple has won a temporary pause of the Apple Watch ban that went into effect on Tuesday, so it will resume sales in Apple Stores starting today (Wednesday) and on Apple.com by 3PM ET / 12PM ET tomorrow, December 28th. A federal appeals court ordered a halt on the import and sales bans today, after Apple requested that they be paused at least until US Customs can determine if changes it’s making to the Apple Watch would be enough to avoid the patent dispute that led to the ban. Customs is expected to issue its decision on January 12th.

    The court’s order means that Apple can resume selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 for the moment. Both watches were pulled from its website last week and off of store shelves this week, as the ban went into effect.

    Read Article >
  • Richard Lawler

    Dec 27, 2023

    Richard Lawler

    Meet Marcelo Lamego, a key figure in the patent battle that’s banned Apple watches.

    Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman goes into the history of Masimo’s patent infringement case against Apple’s wearables, explaining that Lamego was the CTO at a Masimo spinoff. He rebuffed one inquiry from Apple, but in 2013 he emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook at 1AM about working there and joined a few months later:

    Lawyers for Masimo say that Lamego lacked prior knowledge about how to develop the blood-oxygen feature (his previous studies were about neural interfaces rather than health sensors). He learned how to build the technology at Kiani’s companies and delivered it to Apple, they say.

    Lamego then resigned from Apple in July 2014, just months after joining. Masimo argues that he left after Apple got what it needed.

    Masimo also says Apple hired its former chief medical officer and 20 or so other staffers, while Apple claims he wasn’t a good fit.


  • Ariel Shapiro

    Dec 26, 2023

    Ariel Shapiro

    Apple appeals US ban on Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9

    The Apple Watch Series 9 in (Product) Red.
    Image: Apple

    Update December 27th, 12:03PM ET: A federal appeals court has now temporarily paused the ban; you can read our original story about the appeal below.

    Apple has filed an appeal to the International Trade Commission’s decision to ban U.S. sales of Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models, court records show. Additionally, the company is requesting an emergency stay on the ban for at least two weeks until a decision is made on redesigned versions of the banned models.

    Read Article >
  • Emma Roth

    Dec 26, 2023

    Emma Roth

    Apple is now banned from selling its latest Apple Watches in the US

    Pink Series 9 on a reflective pink surface.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Apple was blocked from selling the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US after President Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto the ban; however, on December 27th, the federal appeals court temporarily paused it, allowing Apple to restart sales in its stores and on Apple.com.

    Apple pulled both devices from its website on December 21st and from its store shelves after December 24th. A statement (via CNBC) from the Office of US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the agency “decided not to reverse the ITC’s [International Trade Commission] determination” after “careful consideration.”

    Read Article >
  • Chris Welch

    Dec 21, 2023

    Chris Welch

    The Apple Watch ban is preventing repairs of many models

    Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

    Not only has Apple halted online sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra Series 2 (with in-store sales to follow), but the company’s ongoing patent rift with medical device maker Masimo has another ripple effect: out-of-warranty hardware repairs for several Apple Watch models are now unavailable to customers. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who reports that Apple has informed customer service employees that out-of-warranty hardware repairs and whole unit replacements for the Apple Watch Series 6 onward (with the exception of the SE) will be unavailable for the duration of the ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission.

    If you own one of the models included in the ban and your device is out of warranty, well, you should be extra careful with Apple’s smartwatch starting right now. Products under warranty (or the extended AppleCare Plus program) aren’t affected by this situation. Customers will be notified when hardware replacements are permitted, according to Gurman’s report.

    Read Article >
  • Jon Porter

    Dec 21, 2023

    Jon Porter

    Apple pulls online sales of Apple Watches

    A screenshot of Apple’s website showing that the Apple Watch Series 9 is currently unavailable.
    Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

    It’s no longer possible to buy Apple’s latest flagship smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, from the company’s online store. Apple has removed the devices from sale due to a forthcoming import ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that’s due to take full effect on December 26th. Both watches will disappear from Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores after December 24th.

    The ban is the result of a patent dispute with medical device maker Masimo. The ITC has ruled that the SpO2 sensor in Apple’s smartwatches infringes upon Masimo’s patents. On Wednesday, the ITC denied Apple’s motion to stay the ban while awaiting an appeal.

    Read Article >
  • Emma Roth

    Dec 20, 2023

    Emma Roth

    Apple loses attempt to halt Apple Watch sales ban

    Double tap gesture menu on Series 9
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Apple has lost its bid to delay an import and sales ban on the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2. In a filing on Wednesday, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) denied Apple’s motion to stay the ban while awaiting an appeal.

    On Monday, Apple announced its plans to pull the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 from store shelves in response to an October ruling from the ITC, which said the company’s SpO2 sensors infringed on patents from medical device maker Masimo. The last day to purchase the Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 from Apple stores is December 24th, while the import ban officially goes into effect on December 26th. Apple is already exploring ways it can avoid the ban, including by implementing software changes, according to Bloomberg.

    Read Article >
  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Dec 20, 2023

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    I don’t think Biden is particularly focused on the Apple Watch ban.

    Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday that the administration is “tracking this case and the December 25th deadline” — after which imports of new watches will be banned over a patent dispute.

    Jean-Pierre indicated that the US Trade Representative will be the one making the decision on whether to block the ban:

    “Ambassador Tai is obviously carefully considering all of the factors in this case, so I don’t want to get ahead of any decisions that may come out of USTR. But she certainly has the authority to decide.”


  • Wes Davis

    Dec 19, 2023

    Wes Davis

    Masimo CEO thinks Apple can’t code its way out of the Watch ban.

    Joe Kiani, whose company’s patent claims may halt sales of Apple’s newest smartwatches, explained his skepticism to Bloomberg.

    “I don’t think that could work — it shouldn’t — because our patents are not about the software,” he said. “They are about the hardware with the software.”

    Former US Patent Office director Andrei Iancu told The Verge Apple has a chance, albeit a slim one, depending on the patents’ wording.


  • Victoria Song

    Dec 19, 2023

    Victoria Song

    Why the Apple Watch is being banned — and how Apple can avoid it

    The Apple Watch Series 9 on top of the Ultra 2
    The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will be unavailable for order in the US after December 21st at 3PM ET.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Earlier this year, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple had infringed on two patents from medical device maker Masimo. As a result, the ITC said it would impose an import ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 starting December 26th. At the time it was hard to believe that this would actually come to pass: Apple gets sued all the time, and even when it loses, how often does it actually face dramatic consequences?

    Well, now would be one of those times. Experts say that, barring a Christmas miracle, it’s unlikely that Apple will find a way to escape the ban. Case in point, the company shocked everyone yesterday when it decided to preemptively pull the watches from its online store starting December 21st at 3PM ET. And after the 24th, they’ll disappear from Apple Stores, too.

    Read Article >
  • Jay Peters

    Dec 19, 2023

    Jay Peters

    Apple is scrambling on software changes to attempt to resolve the ITC’s Apple Watch ban.

    On Monday evening, Bloomberg reported the work on algorithm changes that it could submit to the US customs agency in hopes they’ll be approved to get the devices back on the market, plus a few other details about Apple’s response to the ban.


  • Victoria Song

    Dec 18, 2023

    Victoria Song

    Apple to pull Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 this week due to ITC ban

    Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9
    Apple will pause selling the Series 9 and Ultra 2 starting December 21st.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    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.

    Read Article >