By now you've most likely heard that sales of the Apple Watch 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 have been halted in the US, due to ongoing legal wranglings over patent infringements – and it looks as though the ban is going to affect watch repairs and replacements too.
As reported by Bloomberg, Apple isn't going to be able to repair hardware issues (such as broken screens) on any Apple smartwatch that is out of its standard one-year warranty, all the way back to the Apple Watch 6 that launched in 2020.
Apple is going to contact customers when replacements will be offered again, as per an employee memo seen by Bloomberg. Assistance with issues relating to the software on the Apple Watch can still be offered, however.
What's more, if you have an Apple Watch that's still within its 14-day return period, you're not going to be able to swap it for another model (a different color or size, for example) – but refunds will still be accepted while the ban is in place.
The saga continues
It's all a huge headache for Apple, as it battles the patent claims made by a company called Masimo. Masimo insists that the technology Apple is using in the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch infringes on its own patents.
At the moment, it's not clear how long it's going to take for the legal process to play out – but the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US has decided that there's enough merit in the claims to impose a ban on the newest Apple Watch models.
Apple isn't allowed to import any more of its smartwatches into the US from its manufacturers either – so while third-party retailers are going to be able to keep on selling the wearables for the time being, those stocks aren't going to last forever.
No doubt there are a few people who are going to be unwrapping a brand new Apple Watch over the holiday period: as these will still be in warranty, repairs and replacements will be available, but those who've had a watch for a while might be out of luck.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.