Apple To Drop Sensor From Some Watch Models – Report

Apple is reportedly prepared to remove the blood-oxygen sensor from certain Apple Watch models, depending on a court decision.

The Associated Press reported that the sensor removal will take place if a court doesn’t give it more leeway while it attempts to overturn a ruling that blocked its use of the technology.

Last month Apple had to temporarily withdraw the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, from sale in the United States, over a patent dispute with medical technology company Masimo.

Apple Watch Series 9 brings new capabilities to the world’s best-selling watch while achieving a significant environmental milestone.
Image credit Apple

Patent dispute

Last October the US International Trade Commission (ITC) had ordered Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch models, which were introduced alongside the latest iPhone 15 range in September 2023, after finding the models violated patents held by Masimo.

The order was subject to a 60-day presidential review period that expired on 25 December, during which the Biden administration could have decided whether or not to veto it.

Apple had made a motion to the ITC to temporarily halt the order while the case was under appeal, or in light of a potential government shutdown.

But in the lead up to Christmas, the ITC rejected Apple’s motion, and Apple then said it would temporarily halt sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches in the US, in order to comply with the legal order.

Then the White House declined to overturn the ITC sales and import ban of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches.

It should be remembered that Apple had benefited from the last one in 2013 when Barack Obama had vetoed an ITC ruling blocking the import of iPhone 4 and certain iPad models in a dispute with Samsung Electronics.

Apple then filed an emergency request with the US Court of Appeals to halt the ITC order. The Appeals Court halted the ban while it considered Apple’s motion for a longer-term pause, allowing Watch sales in the US to resume.

Watch redesign

Now the AP reported that a Monday court filing by Masimo revealed that a potential redesign of two Apple Watch models, the Series 9 and Ultra 2, that would exclude the blood-oxygen sensor, has been approved by the US Customs and Border Protection.

The document didn’t disclose how Apple plans to remove the blood-oxygen sensor, although analysts have speculated the change could come through a software update, the AP reported.

The US Court of Appeals in Washington is expected to decide whether it extend the stay later this month.

If it does, the Series 9 and Ultra 2 can remain on sale with the blood-oxygen sensors intact.

It will probably take at least a year for the appeals process to unfold, meaning Apple will need an extended stay to continue selling the watches with the blood-oxygen sensors, the AP reported.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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