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Biden Won't Save The Apple Watch

Apple has already removed Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches from both its online and in-person stores.

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An Apple Watch Series 9 with notifications for health and medication
Apple has been in a running battle with medical device maker Masimo over its blood oxygen-sensing technology.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The White House has left Apple without hope of federal intervention to keep the current-gen Apple Watch on store shelves. The Biden administration has officially declined to veto restrictions on the company’s wearables due to an ongoing patent dispute, despite the Cupertino tech giant’s pleas. So much for the season of giving.

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s order banning Apple from selling its wearables went into full effect on Tuesday. CEO Tim Cook and his company were desperately hoping that the White House, and specifically Assistant Trade Representative Katherine Tai, would come to the rescue and halt the ITC’s decision. The rep’s office told Reuters on Tuesday it decided not to veto the ban “following careful consultations.”


Medical device maker Masimo has claimed Apple stole some of its tech for the Apple Watch Series 9’s and Ultra 2’s blood oxygen sensor, leading to the ITC’s import ban back in October. The watch was yoinked off Apple’s online shop by Friday and should have been pulled off Apple’s store shelves as of Christmas. The ITC’s import ban is only affecting Apple’s retail apparatus, so customers can still pick up Apple’s latest wearables from partner shops like Target and Best Buy. If you got an Apple store gift card this holiday and were jonesing for the latest watch, then unfortunately you’re out of luck.


Apple, which continues to claim it did not use any of Masimo’s tech in its watches, provided an email statement to Gizmodo saying its teams dedicated “years” to developing health and wellness features for Apple Watch. The company added: “We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting exclusion order, and are taking all measures to return Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to customers in the U.S. as soon as possible.”


Apple previously made a motion to temporarily halt the order while the company worked to appeal the decision, but the ITC shrugged off the Cupertino company’s request. The latest news from the White House has limited Apple’s decisions to deal with this patent dispute, though the company has told us it has submitted proposals for a redesigned Series 9 and Ultra to the U.S. Customs office. Apple still could settle with Masimo, but now the medical device maker is negotiating from a position of strength. Gizmodo reached out to Masimo for comment, but we did not immediately hear back.

The ban isn’t impacting the budget-minded Apple Watch SE or previous-gen wearables, so if you don’t mind losing out on the double tap gesture control (which is the Series 9’s only major improvement over the Series 8 model other than on-device Siri support) you could opt for that. Better yet, it might be better to wait until 2024 when Apple might reveal its Apple Watch Series “X,” which will supposedly be a much more dramatic refresh to the watch brand.


The next Apple Watch edition could include a new microLED display and long-touted blood pressure monitoring features. However, it’s unclear how the ongoing Masimo patent dispute might impact Apple’s plans for more wearables. Rumormongers are also hinting the next watch could reinvent the mechanism for attaching the watch bands, something that was also touted by Bloomberg’s Apple Guru Mark Gurman back in August. This rumored magnetic band attachment system would make all the current watch bands obsolete, which might be another reason to skip this current generation entirely.