You'll still be able to buy an Apple Watch 9 after its ban, but Apple won’t tell you where

Apple Watch Series 9
The Apple Watch Series 9 (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple is about to pause direct US sales of the Apple Watch 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 as it handles a patent dispute – but even though sales will continue at other US retailers, don't expect staff in the Apple Store to tell you much about that.

As per Bloomberg, Apple employees are being instructed not to direct shoppers towards Best Buy, Target, or Walmart – other outlets in the United States where the smartwatches are going to remain on sale for the time being (while stocks last). Apple will continue selling the two smartwatches online until December 21 and in physical Apple Stores until December 24.

It's no doubt a case of Apple covering its back from a legal point of view, but it's not particularly helpful for consumers, who may trudge home disappointed that they couldn't pick up an Apple Watch deal over the holiday season.

"Unfortunately, due to the ongoing legal matter, I am not able to provide you with any information about where you can buy Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2," Apple Store staff are being told to say, according to Bloomberg.

The story so far

A company called Masimo has taken legal action over the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch, claiming it infringes on its patents. Apple has therefore been told to halt sales by the International Trade Commission (ITC), pending a full investigation.

Assuming there's no presidential intervention between then and now, the two latest Apple Watch models won't be sold by Apple in the US from December 21 (online) and December 24 (in store). However, the Apple Watch ban doesn't apply to other countries, or third-party retailers.

It might do eventually though, if this drags on: the ITC has also told Apple it can no longer import Apple Watch stock into the US either, so stores such as Best Buy aren't going to be able to keep refilling their shelves indefinitely.

Apple is of course appealing the ITC ruling and exploring the option of a software fix, but for now, it's missing out on a lot of revenue – and can't even direct potential smartwatch buyers elsewhere, it would seem.

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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.