By: Nick Gambino
The Apple Watch Series 9 and the Ultra 2 have been fighting for their lives in court these past couple months. After a lawsuit by health tech company Masimo claimed the smartwatches infringed on their patent for blood oxygen sensors, the ITC banned imports of the wearables into the U.S.
This effectively killed future domestic sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 because no retailers would be able to restock once they sold their current inventory. After President Biden upheld the ITC ban, things were looking bleak, but a glimmer of hope has broken through.
According to a letter sent to the U.S. Court of Appeals by Masimo’s lawyer, it seems as though Apple will be able to continue to sell both watches as long as they disable the pulse oximetry features. They don’t even need to remove the sensors as long as they remove the ability for users to receive monitoring data.
“On Friday, January 12, the Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch (EOE) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection decided that Apple’s redesign falls outside the scope of the remedial orders in the ITC Investigation underlying Apple’s appeal,” the letter reads. “As pointed out in Masimo’s Opposition, Apple’s arguments lead to the conclusion that the EOE Branch decision finding the redesign outside the scope of the remedial orders would eliminate any irreparable harm alleged by Apple.”
Now, they haven’t disabled these monitoring features yet as there has been no official ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals. As that’s the case, they are allowed to keep selling the watch as is until the court makes a decision. That said, there’s probably no circumstance where they won’t have to disable the pulse oximetry function if they want to keep selling their watches.
“This is probably the best case scenario for Apple who only a few weeks ago saw the complete disruption to one of their most popular hardware products,” Andrew Tropeano, Host of News Around America (www.newsaroundamerica.com), says. “The blood oxygen monitoring function was never a big selling point for the Apple Watch, so simply disabling it on the software level would be the easiest fix to keep the wearable on the market.”
It looks like we’ll have this all wrapped up just in time for the Apple Watch Series 10 and Ultra 3 to hit the market with no blood oxygen sensor whatsoever.