Following an initial ban in 2023, a U.S. appeals court rejected Apple’s request to lift the ban on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 due to the ongoing legal dispute between the tech giant and the medical device company Masimo. Specifically, Masimo accused Apple of stealing its blood oxygenation sensor, allegedly with the assistance of some former employees who had been hired by Apple to work on various projects and exploit the technology.
The tech giant initially halted the sales and import of Apple Watch models featuring the blood-oxygen sensor towards the end of 2023 in response to a complaint filed by Masimo. Then, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ordered a ban in October, prompting Apple to file an emergency appeal.
According to Masimo’s report, Apple’s devices violated its patents related to pulse oximetry sensors measuring blood oxygen levels. In response, Apple has implemented a software modification to disable the pulse oximetry sensors in its current stock, allowing for sales of these models to continue.
However, there is uncertainty as to whether this adjustment complies with the terms of the ban or if users could potentially bypass the software change. The legal battle is anticipated to last a year or more, impacting Apple’s sales strategy and potentially necessitating a redesign of the devices. There is no guarantee of success for Apple, as the company expressed strong disagreement with the federal court decision. Nevertheless, it remains committed to complying with the ban. Masimo sought $1.85 billion in damages during a federal trial over intellectual property, which concluded in a hung jury.
For now, a message has been posted on Apple’s website and specifically on the Apple Watch Series 9 page: “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the blood oxygen feature.”
Here’s Apple’s full statement to 9to5Mac:
Apple’s appeal is ongoing, and we believe the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should reverse the USITC’s decision. We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting orders.
Pending the appeal, Apple is taking steps to comply with the ruling while ensuring customers have access to Apple Watch with limited disruption. These steps include introducing a version of Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the United States without the Blood Oxygen feature. There is no impact to Apple Watch units previously purchased that include the Blood Oxygen feature.
Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 without the Blood Oxygen feature will become available from apple.com starting 6am PT on January 18, and from Apple Stores starting January 18.