Apple can no longer sell the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the US after President Joe Biden’s administration declined to veto the ban today.
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.”
The ITC issued the ban after finding that Apple infringed on blood oxygen saturation technology patented by a company called Masimo. It also ordered Apple to stop selling any previously-imported devices with the infringed-upon tech. While Apple attempted to block the decision while awaiting an appeal, the ITC denied Apple’s request, and the other chance of intervention was a veto from President Joe Biden, which didn’t happen.
The ban only affects Apple stores in the US. That means customers can still get their hands on a Watch Series 9 or Watch Ultra 2 at Best Buy, Target, and other retailers while supplies last. Apple will also continue selling the Watch SE, as it doesn’t come with a blood oxygen sensor.
Still, it’s not clear where Apple will go from here. My colleague Victoria Song explores the various paths Apple could take, including making software changes to the blood oxygen sensor on both watches or disabling the sensor on imported devices. But both of those methods might not be enough to satisfy the ITC, which is why Apple could always choose to settle with Masimo instead.