The International Trade Commission (ITC) recently slapped a ban on the Series 9 and Ultra 2, citing a patent dispute over blood oxygen technology. This unexpected blow not only halts sales but also out-of-warranty repairs for Series 6 and later models.
Out-of-warranty repairs halted for Series 6 and later models due to ongoing ban affecting Apple Watch
Apple ceased the sale of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 on December 21, affecting both online and in-store purchases. The ban primarily impacts US customers, allowing purchases to continue in other regions like Canada and Europe. Partner retailers like Walmart and Best Buy can still sell existing stock, but Apple cannot provide them with new units, hinting at potential supply shortages.
A memo shared with Apple’s customer service teams reveals that out-of-warranty repairs for Apple Watch models from Series 6 onward are currently unavailable. Users facing hardware issues, such as broken screens, are advised to wait until the ban is lifted for hardware replacements. Software-related support, such as operating system reinstalls, remains available for users with devices under warranty.
Customers with older models affected by the ban, out of warranty, face difficulties getting repairs or replacements from Apple. The ban also restricts the exchange of watches purchased before December 25, affecting customers’ ability to swap for different colors or sizes. Despite the challenges, accessories like bands can still be replaced, and watches can be returned for a full refund.
The ITC ban stems from Apple’s alleged infringement of health technology patents owned by Masimo Corp., specifically related to blood oxygen-sensing technology. The ban affects Apple Watch Series 6, 7, 8, 9, Ultra, and Ultra 2, but excludes the Apple Watch SE, which lacks the blood oxygen feature.
Apple is reportedly working on a software update to address the patent concerns and get the affected smartwatches back on store shelves. Potential options for resolution include White House intervention, a settlement with Masimo, or the removal of the infringing technology. The uncertainty surrounding the ban raises questions about the timing of hardware replacements and the overall impact on customer satisfaction.