Apple plans to sell its Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches without blood oxygen sensors after a federal court denied its bid to continue sales while it appeals an import ban imposed on those watches due to a patent infringement dispute with medical monitoring technology firm Masimo.
Last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) ruled that Apple’s blood oxygen sensors in those two smartwatches violated Masimo’s patents. The USITC imposed an import ban that briefly went into effect before it was temporarily halted during the tech giant’s appeal before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and while it sought approval for redesigned Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches.
Masimo noted in a court filing this week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection approved Apple Watches that were redesigned to exclude a blood oxygen sensor feature. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied Apple’s request to put the ban on hold during the appeal, meaning the company had to stop selling the smartwatches at the center of the dispute unless the blood oxygen sensor was removed.
“Apple’s appeal is ongoing, and we believe the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should reverse the USITC’s decision,” the company said in a statement provided to FOX Business. “We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting orders.”
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“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 explained.
Apple noted that the redesigned Apple Watches became available from the company’s retail website starting at 6 a.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, and its retail stores also began selling them on Wednesday.
Customers who buy the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will still see the blood oxygen icon on the watch, but when tapped they will receive a message saying, “The Blood Oxygen app is no longer available. Learn More in the Health app on your iPhone.” When users tap through to the Health app, users will see “unavailable” for Blood Oxygen and a link to a support article, Apple explained.
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“The Federal Circuit’s decision to lift the temporary stay is a victory for the integrity of the American patent system and the safety of people relying on pulse oximetry,” said Joe Kiani, founder and CEO of Masimo, in a statement provided to FOX Business.
“It affirms that even the largest and most powerful companies must respect the intellectual rights of American investors and must deal with the consequences when they are caught infringing others’ patents,” Kiani added.
Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches that were purchased before the restriction on the blood oxygen sensor technology was put in place are unaffected by the ban, and other Apple Watch products are similarly not affected.
The two smartwatches at the center of the dispute remain available for sale with the blood oxygen sensor to customers outside the U.S., where the U.S. International Trade Commission doesn’t have jurisdiction.
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