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Apple is already gearing up for the Apple Watch online sales ban

The blood pulse oximeter on an Apple Watch

While Apple's self-imposed deadline hasn't yet passed, the company has already started the process of ceasing Apple Watch sales and shipments from its online store for some models.

While the full Apple Watch sales ban for orders to be shipped won't start until 3:00 PM ET on December 21, some models are already being affected. A spot-check on Wednesday evening showed just about every model available for immediate shipping.

However, there has been a shift overnight for most of them, and a new message in the shipping options column showing only in-store pickup in its stead.

Apple has not formally announced the cessation of online orders, and it is still possible to step through most of the process of ordering. However, ultimately, users are shown no delivery options, other than "today from store," meaning direct from a retail Apple Store.

Note the
Note the "today from store" detail at bottom right

The ban is happening because of a ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in January 2023. The ITC backed medical firm Masimo in its lawsuit claiming that Apple violated its patents with the Apple Watch's blood pulse oximeter.

Then in October 2023, the ITC recommended a US import ban. That recommendation then entered a 60-day Presidential Review process, where the Biden administration could chose to veto it.

"A Presidential Review Period is in progress regarding an order from the U.S. International Trade Commission on a technical intellectual property dispute pertaining to Apple Watch devices containing the Blood Oxygen feature," Apple said previously. "While the review period will not end until December 25, Apple is preemptively taking steps to comply should the ruling stand."

Orders already placed for the Apple Watch will still be fulfilled, and the ban does not affect buyers outside the US.

As well as still being able to buy an Apple Watch from Apple's own retail stores, until December 24, 2023, there are many discount deals on the Watch from other resellers.As previously confirmed to AppleInsider, the ban will not effect retail stores until December 24.