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Apple Drops Blood-Oxygen Feature Over Legal Battle

In the midst of a legal struggle over Masimo's patent, Apple modifies functionality and removes blood oxygen monitoring; will affect Series 9 and Ultra 2

Apple

Apple intends to remove the blood oxygen monitoring capability from two top Apple Watch models in the United States due to a legal dispute over patented technologies. This action is anticipated to continue until the legal matter is settled, which may take up to a year. 

Apple Removes Key Features

Apple declared on Wednesday that the blood-oxygen reading function would no longer be available on two well-known Apple Watch models in the US. Experts predicted that they will remove the fitness-marketed function rather than remove the devices from sale in a significant market due to the continuing legal battle, which is expected to run for a year. The impacted Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, which do not include the capability, will go on sale this Thursday at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, meaning today. 

As a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s ruling that Apple cannot continue selling Apple Watch models while it is embroiled in a legal dispute with medical technology startup Masimo, the company’s shares fell 0.5% to $182.68. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) granted Masimo permission to stop importing the devices in December, and this decision was followed by the court order. Approximately 25% of the smartwatch market worldwide is made up of Apple Watches. According to Joe Kiani, the founder of Masimo, the decision confirms that even big businesses have an obligation to uphold innovators’ intellectual property rights. But Apple demanded a reversal, vehemently disagreeing with the ITC’s ruling and orders.

Masimo Patent Dispute

Apple is taking the blood oxygen monitoring function off of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models that are sold in the United States in reaction to the legal conflict. The decision is expected to remain in effect until the case is settled, which may take up to a year, and it attempts to abide by the court’s decision. The blood oxygen feature will not be included in the impacted models, although they will still be sold. Despite having fewer sales than the iPhone, the Apple Watch is nevertheless very important to the company’s wearables business and generates a sizable portion of its total income. 

In the third quarter of 2023, Apple’s wearables, home, and accessories business—which includes the Apple Watch—reaped $8.28 billion in sales. The Federal Circuit removed the ITC’s temporary import ban on Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches on December 27. The ban had been in place since December 26. Afterwards, Apple started selling again. Allegations from Masimo that Apple misappropriated pulse oximetry technology for Apple Watches and hired away its staff are at the center of the continuing legal dispute. Apple filed a countersue for patent infringement against Masimo, claiming that Masimo’s lawsuits are meant to open the door for Apple to release its own competing watch. The court’s ruling highlights the difficulties Apple has safeguarding its intellectual property as well as the possible effects on its wearables business.

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