Apple Watch Blood Oxygen Monitoring Feature Removed Following Patent Dispute

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Due to a patent dispute with Masimo, Apple plans to omit the Apple watch blood oxygen monitoring feature from its latest smartwatch models, the Series 9 and Ultra 2. This is in response to a potential ban on the devices in the United States, pending the outcome of an appeal.

The disclosure came on Monday from Masimo Corp., a company entangled in a patent dispute with Apple concerning the technology behind Apple watch blood oxygen measurement. Masimo revealed that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection approved this plan on January 12, asserting that Apple’s redesign falls outside the scope of the import ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission. This decision suggests that Apple’s adjustment will enable it to maintain the availability of its watches in the market.

The dispute originated from an ITC ruling in October, declaring that Apple’s devices violated Masimo’s patents related to Apple Watch blood oxygen measurement. Consequently, Apple halted the sales of its smartwatches just before Christmas, but an interim stay allowed the company to resume sales late last month.

To address the issue, Apple developed a software workaround to resolve the dispute and presented the solution to the customs agency last week. The watches, according to Apple, unequivocally do not contain the disputed technology known as pulse oximetry, as confirmed by Masimo.

This is contingent on the outcome of Apple’s appeal to a federal court for a longer stay. The company anticipates a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as early as Tuesday, with the possibility of the appeal period lasting a year or more.

During this interim period, the Apple Watch blood oxygen feature remains available on newly sold Apple Watch units. However, if the appeal fails, the removal of this feature would be a consequential move to avert the reimposition of the ban, which could have taken effect as soon as this month.

Masimo commended Apple’s claim that the redesigned watch does not contain pulse oximetry, emphasizing the importance of large companies respecting intellectual property rights. Removing the technology from the Apple Watch could impact customer demand, but it seems Apple is prepared for this scenario, having shipped modified Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches to U.S. retail locations, pending corporate approval.

Simultaneously, a federal appeals court is expected to address Apple’s motion for a continued stay on the ban. The ITC has urged the court to reject arguments opposing the enforcement of the ban, characterizing them as “weak and unconvincing.”

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