Apple has announced that it will begin selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 without the blood oxygen feature in the United States. This temporary change comes following a recent US court ruling upholding a ban on sales of these models due to a patent infringement dispute with medical device company Masimo. (via. 9to5Mac)
The legal battle centers around multiple patents held by Masimo concerning blood oxygen sensing technology, which the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in December 2023 that Apple’s blood oxygen sensor in its latest Watch models infringed upon. This ruling initially threatened to halt sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 models in the US.
Instead of a complete sales ban this time, Apple has opted to remove the blood oxygen feature through a software update, effectively creating a new SKU for the US market. Existing owners of Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches with the blood oxygen feature will not be affected, and the feature remains available on these models outside the US.
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.
The modified Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models will be available for purchase in the US starting today, January 18, both online and at Apple Store locations. While the Blood Oxygen app will still be present on these modified watches, attempting to use it will display a message explaining the feature’s unavailability and providing further information.
It’s important to note that this is a temporary measure while the legal dispute unfolds. The appeals process could take over a year, and the final outcome will determine whether the blood oxygen feature can be restored to these models in the US. Apple could ultimately opt to reach a licensing agreement with Masimo if it gets desperate enough to reactivate the sensor on its watches.
For those considering purchasing an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 in the US, it’s crucial to be aware of this missing feature. While the watch still offers a wide range of other functionalities, the absence of blood oxygen monitoring may be a deterrent for some potential buyers.