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Stephen Warwick

Breaking: Apple may remove blood oxygen feature from Apple Watch Series 9, Ultra 2 in face of ban — ITC approves workaround without pulse oximetry

Apple Watch Series 9 review.

Emerging reports claim Apple is planning to remove the pulse oximetry functionality from its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 in order to get around an import ban on both devices. 

According to patent litigation expert Florian Mueller "Apple has removed all pulse oximetry functionality. On that basis, U.S. customs said the Apple Watch no longer falls within the scope of the ITC import ban," and has removed the blood oxygen feature rather than creating a workaround. 

Through his ipfray publication, Mueller stated that "A filing by Masimo with the Federal Circuit states that U.S. customs cleared Apple’s modified product on Friday (January 12, 2024). According to the filing, the accused feature (pulse oximetry) was removed." As it stands, Apple is currently now cleared to sell and import the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, however, Mueller states Masimo will now ask for the stay on the ban to be lifted because Apple can't claim irreparable harm. 

The end of blood oxygen on Apple Watch?

It is unclear at this stage what will happen next, and we've reached out to Apple for comment. If the company is indeed planning to remove the feature, as Mueller reports, it would likely have to issue a software update to existing users disabling blood oxygen, as well as making amendments to new products before they're sold.

Apple stopped selling both devices in the run-up to Christmas last year in anticipation of an International Trade Commission ban on both products after the company was found to have infringed on patents owned by Masimo relating to the technology. 

The import and sale ban was confined to the U.S., so it's unclear whether Apple would only make this change in the U.S. or worldwide. As Mueller notes, as it stands Apple remains free to sell the watch even in its offending state until the ban is reinstated. It would only be required to move to the modified version without blood oxygen monitoring if the ITC reinstates the ban. 

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