Santa’s elves better hurry up and ship those new Apple Watches. Starting Dec. 21, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 will no longer be available for sale. Christmas Eve is the last day to buy one at the brick-and-mortar Apple retail store.
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What’s going on? Like all significant patent disputes, they come to a head around a major holiday. According to 9to5Mac, Apple is halting sales of its smartwatches because of a patent disagreement with a medical device maker. Masimo, which sells its version of blood oxygen monitoring to hospitals, claims the SpO2 monitor in the latest models of the Apple Watch violates one of its long-standing patents and stole information during a closed meeting back in 2013 after being approached by Apple for collaboration.
Masimo filed two complaints against Apple with the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. This import ban comes from the ITC, which ruled in favor of Masimo in October.
On its part, Apple already has a statement about the situation. A spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company is “preemptively taking steps to comply” if the ruling goes through. Apple is still waiting for the Biden Administration to veto the ban.
The company is also making it known that it “strongly disagrees” with the order and is pursuing other avenues for keeping the Apple Watch on the shelf. “Should the order stand, Apple 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.”
If you plan to buy someone the Apple Watch for Christmas, now is the time. Like, right as you’re finished reading this piece. Apple will likely appeal the ban if it goes through, but who knows how long that could take?
The latest Apple Watch is worth buying for reasons other than its blood oxygen monitoring, which has become standard in the world of wearables. The double tap gesture is a nice bit of extra accessibility, not to mention on-device Siri makes dictation a cinch. The Series 8 is also a good idea if you want to avoid the ban and save a few hundred, but I’m a stickler for getting the latest gen when upgrading.