Apple is withdrawing the blood oxygen measurement function from the banned watches if the appeal to the court is unsuccessful
January 17, 2024

Apple is withdrawing the blood oxygen measurement function from the banned watches if the appeal to the court is unsuccessful

If Apple's appeal against the US International Trade Commission's (ITC) decision to ban the sale of the Watch Ultra 2 and Watch Series 9 due to patent theft fails, the giant will redesign its devices to comply with the law. More precisely, in order to avoid another ban on sales within the borders of the United States of America, Apple is withdrawing the function of measuring oxygen in the blood, that is, the sensors for performing this function, and it has allegedly already started distributing modified watches to retail stores, according to Bloomberg.

This plan of the Cupertino giant was revealed yesterday by the company Masimo, the very one from which Apple stole patents and implemented them in its devices, as previously determined by the ITC. Medical technology company Masimo says US Customs and Border Protection approved the device's design change on January 12. These services decided that “Apple device redesign does not fall within the scope of the ban on sales and imports previously issued by the US International Trade Commission.”

This indicates that this legal step will in fact allow the tech giant to keep its watches on the market, despite previously selling them with a stolen patent.

At the end of last year, the ITC ruled that Apple infringes Masimo's patents related to blood oxygen measurement. This led to the apparently temporary suspension of sales of the Watch 9 and Watch Ultra 2 watches from the Apple website, as well as from physical stores in the US.

The iPhone maker has developed a software solution that should circumvent further legal disputes, and last week submitted the solution to the Customs Agency, which is in charge of enforcing the import ban. Apple explained that the redesigned watches “definitely” do not contain the disputed technology, known as pulse oximetry, according to Masimo.

Apple said it expects the US Federal Court of Appeals to rule on its appeal soon, asking the court to keep the watches on the market during the legal process, which could take about a year.

Pending a decision on the appeal, which could come by the end of the week, the blood oxygen measurement feature on the Apple Watch remains available on new units, the California-based company said.

Apple's claim that its redesigned watch does not contain pulse oximetry is a positive step towards accountability“, announced the company Masimo and added that it is especially important that one of the largest and most powerful companies respects the intellectual property rights of smaller companies and the decisions of the ITC after it is caught in violation of other people's rights.

Removing the technology from Apple watches would definitely be a significant step. The company's engineers are already working on a software update that changes the blood oxygen measurement app and its algorithms in a way that could work around this issue without actually losing functionality. However, eliminating this possibility would probably be the fastest way to avoid reimposing the ban.

However, the move could hurt customer demand, given that the feature in question has been highly praised by the public.

During the legal entanglement, Apple also got the opportunity to negotiate with the company Masimo about a possible settlement, but at the moment it does not seem that the two parties have actually entered into some kind of negotiations about this.

In addition, pending a decision by the Court of Appeals to block the implementation of the ITC-ordered sales ban, the body is urging the court to reject “weak and unconvincing” arguments in favor of the tech giant.