Apple Strips Blood Oxygen Monitoring from Watches Amid Ongoing Patent Battle

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In response to an ongoing patent dispute with medical device manufacturer Masimo, Apple has opted to eliminate the pulse oximeter function from its latest smartwatches. This strategic move aims to circumvent a potential US import ban imposed as a result of the disagreement. Last month, sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 were briefly halted following a trade commission ruling. Although a court permitted temporary sales, Apple has now committed to deactivating the contested pulse oximeter feature to address the issue and prevent a permanent ban.

Apple Watch Patent Dispute

In a legal clash, Masimo has accused Apple of using its technology and expertise without authorization in creating the pulse oximeter function. Although a patent lawsuit did not yield the desired outcome, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Masimo, resulting in a ban on importing Apple products featuring the contentious technology. To navigate this challenge and restart sales, Apple has gained approval from the US Customs and Border Protection to remove the disputed pulse oximeter feature.

As reported by The New York Times, in October, the International Trade Commission made a determination that certain Apple Watches had violated patents owned by Masimo, a medical technology company based in Irvine, California, known for its contributions to pulse oximeter technology.

Subsequently, the commission imposed an import ban on Apple’s watches, which are manufactured in Asia. This decision reflects the ongoing legal challenges between the tech giant and Masimo over the alleged infringement of intellectual property related to pulse oximetry.

Commencing Thursday, Apple is introducing modified versions of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, now devoid of the pulse oximeter function. These updated models will be accessible for purchase both online and in stores. Notably, the app icon for the pulse oximeter feature will persist, but upon tapping, users will receive a notification indicating its unavailability. This move aligns with Apple’s efforts to comply with legal requirements following a patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo.

The ruling impacts Apple Watch’s 25% global market share, as estimated by Counterpoint Research. Disagreeing with the decision, Apple is seeking a reversal in response to the patent dispute with Masimo. It’s worth noting that the ruling only affects Apple Watches sold in the US, with existing devices and those sold internationally remaining unaffected. Apple is actively managing these legal challenges while aiming to sustain its standing in the global smartwatch market.

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