In response to a patent battle with Masimo, a Californian startup, Apple has taken steps to circumvent an import prohibition in the United States that would have affected the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.
By disabling the blood oxygen app on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, the tech giant can evade the newly imposed import prohibition, according to a January 15 letter from Masimo to an appeals court judge.
While the International Trade Commission (ITC) had banned the import of the two devices, according to Masimo’s letter, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determined that Apple’s redesign did not fall under its purview.
“Redesigned Watch products definitively do not contain pulse oximetry functionality,” Apple had explained, the report continued.
U.S. Federal Appeals Court might rule on Apple’s motion to delay a potential ban on the two smartwatch models in the US while the company appeals the judgment as soon as Tuesday.
“It is especially important that one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies respects the intellectual property rights of smaller companies and complies with ITC orders when it is caught infringing,” Masimo said in a widely reported statement on Monday, explaining that Apple’s decision to remove the tool from its smartwatches was “a positive step toward accountability.”
Regarding the news that broke on Monday, Apple has remained mum. The watches were demonetized in the US at year’s end following an ITC ruling that found the blood oxygen sensors infringed Masimo’s patents.
The ban was set to take effect on December 26, but Apple won an appeal to temporarily resume sales nearly immediately after removing the devices from retailers.
Mark Gurman, an Apple insider, said on Monday that the tech company is working on an update to the blood oxygen app’s code that will change the algorithms to make it less dependent on Masimo’s proprietary technology.
Although the exact release date is uncertain, Gurman did mention that Apple has begun shipping the upgraded Series 9 and Ultra 2 wristwatches to Apple Stores.
It is anticipated that the blood oxygen feature, which assesses the user’s red blood cell oxygen saturation, will continue to function on previously sold Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices, as well as on watches sold in countries other than the United States.
There appears to be a long way to go in the Apple vs. Masimo issue, given the number of variables at play.
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