February 26, 2024

An Apple Watch Ultra 2 displayed on a black background.

An Apple Watch Ultra 2 on display in South Korea, where you can still buy one.
Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Getty Images)

If Santa Claus for you a Apple Watch Series 9 or An Ultra 2 model during the American incentive of his Christmas run, congratulations! If you wanted one but didn’t get it, sorry.

The Biden administration refused to veto A US import ban on Apple’s flagship watch models. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency that adjudicates some intellectual property disputes, has set a Christmas deadline for the president to step in and give Apple the gift of continued imports. Joe Biden didn’t, so Americans can no longer buy the watches because they are manufactured in China and Vietnam.

The controversy at the center of the ban stems from the technology Apple Watches use for their blood oxygen monitoring functions. A medical device company called Masimo said that Apple’s version of the light-based pulse oximeter infringed a patent for a similar piece of Masimo hardware, and it took Apple to court. That suit ended in a mistrial, but Masimo also sought intervention from the ITC, which gave it some relief.

“Today’s decision by the USITC sends a powerful message that even the world’s largest company is not above the law,” Masimo founder and CEO Joe Kiani said at the time.

Apple’s watch has expired

The ITC ruling came in October, but Apple kept the watches on the shelves while it waited for a possible veto from the president. There was precedent for such actions back in the Obama administration, which sided with Apple during its beef with Samsung about technology in certain iPhone and iPad models. But Biden was not as friendly as its predecessor, refuses to veto a similar ITC Apple Watch ban initiated by another medical device company.

When the veto for the Masimo decision didn’t come by December 18, Apple announced that it would remove the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models from both its online and brick-and-mortar US stores by Christmas. Which means if you can’t get one from another supplier, you’re out of luck. You can still buy an SE2 model if you want, although it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles.

The tech giant is asking a federal court to step in and overrule the ITC, so maybe there is hope in the future. “We disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the US as soon as possible,” Apple said in a statement that the media was released, said.

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