The Apple Watch ban is lifted, on appeal – but the reprieve might only be temporary

Two Apple Watch 9 models
Go and get an Apple Watch 9 while you still can (Image credit: Apple)

The Apple Watch ban story has developed quickly over the last week and a bit, and there's now a new twist: the US Court of Appeals is putting a pause on the US sales and import ban while it reviews the case, which means the Apple Watch 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 can go back on sale for the time being.

"We are thrilled to return the full Apple Watch lineup to customers in time for the new year," an Apple spokesperson told TechRadar. "We are pleased the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal."

The watches in question are now once again available from "select" Apple Stores, and will also be going on sale from the Apple website from 12pm PT / 3pm ET on Thursday, December 28 (that's 8pm in the UK, and early on December 29 in Australia). All Apple Stores should have stock by the weekend.

As for how long the ban on the ban will be in place, it's not clear. The next significant date is January 10, which is the deadline for the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the US to respond to Apple's appeal – that's the organization that prompted Apple's decision to take the smartwatches off sale in the first place.

Key dates

This all relates to a lawsuit that's been rumbling in the background all year, brought by tech company Masimo: it claims that the blood oxygen sensor technology in Apple's watches infringe on patents that are already registered, and it's proving to be a major headache for Apple and its wearable sales.

As 9to5Mac reports, Apple has also submitted a software fix that it hopes will get it off the patent dispute hook – a decision on whether or not that update changes anything is going to be made on January 12, so it will be a busy January for Apple news.

The full ban on US sales and imports of the Apple Watch 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 came into force on Christmas Day, December 25, after the White House administration decided not to intervene and reverse the ruling already put in place by the ITC.

And bear in mind that this is all preemptive action by the parties involved: no definitive decision on whether Apple is in the right or the wrong here has yet been made. It's certainly a painful problem for Apple though, as the looming threat of a ban continues to impact both sales and quite possibly repairs and replacements too.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

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.