Apple to Remove Blood Oxygen Features from Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 to Avoid Ban

Apple Watch ban
In Short
  • Apple has reportedly modified Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models by removing the blood oxygen monitoring features to address the legal dispute with Masimo.
  • This modification is seen as a primitive move to navigate legal complexities.
  • Apple has also started shipping these modified Apple Watch models and is working on a software update to modify the blood oxygen algorithm on the watches already sold

In a move to settle the legal dispute with medical technology company Masimo, Apple has reportedly readied modified versions of its latest Apple Watch models. This adjustment involves removing the pulse oximetry functionality from new and unsold models, as revealed in a document filed by Masimo (via MacRumors) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The filing suggests that this modification is intended to avoid the import and sales ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last year. The Apple Watch ban, stemming from allegations of patent infringement related to pulse oximetry technology, was temporarily paused earlier. However, the ban could have resumed as early as this month, which is why Apple is forced to take this measure.

Apple Watch Series 9

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple has already commenced shipping the modified Apple Watch models to US retail stores. However, the exact timeline for their availability remains unclear. Apple has not yet responded to inquiries seeking clarification on these developments.

While Apple’s official website still advertises the Blood Oxygen monitoring app as a feature on the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the US, the modification indicates a temporary removal of this functionality. Existing Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 owners are expected to retain access to the feature, and its availability is unlikely to be affected in other countries.

This move by Apple is seen as a preemptive step, potentially allowing it to sidestep the ITC’s Apple Watch ban. Mark Gurman has reported that Apple is concurrently working on a software update to adjust the Blood Oxygen monitoring app’s algorithms on the sold Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches. This effort is likely intended to address Masimo’s patented technology and potentially provide a resolution to the legal dispute.

In response to the development, Masimo commended Apple’s acknowledgment and action regarding the pulse oximetry feature. A Masimo spokesperson stated, “Apple’s claim that its redesigned watch does not contain pulse oximetry is a positive step toward accountability.”

As the legal battle continues, it remains to be seen whether Apple’s software update will successfully address the patent concerns Masimo raised. 

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