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Updated January 18th, 2024 at 08:53 IST

Apple removes blood oxygen feature from watches amid court ruling

The legal dispute centres around allegations by Masimo that Apple unlawfully acquired its pulse oximetry technology and used it in the Apple Watch.

Business Desk
Apple watch
Apple watch | Image:AP
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Apple’s legal battle: Apple has announced the removal of the blood oxygen monitoring feature from its Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models in the United States.

The decision follows an ongoing legal battle with medical technology company Masimo over patents related to the technology supporting this feature.

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Anticipating a potentially prolonged legal process, analysts predicted that Apple would choose to disable the blood oxygen monitoring feature rather than withdraw the devices from one of its major markets. 

The affected models, lacking the blood oxygen feature, will be available for sale on Apple's website and in stores from 6 am Pacific Time on Thursday.

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The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Apple, preventing the company from selling the contested models, which account for a significant portion of the global smartwatch market. 

Masimo had previously obtained a decision from the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to halt imports of the devices, prompting this legal dispute.

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Masimo's founder and CEO, Joe Kiani, expressed satisfaction with the court ruling, stating that it reinforces the importance of respecting intellectual property rights. Apple, on the other hand, disagreed strongly with the ITC decision and subsequent orders, expressing the belief that they should be reversed.

The Series 9 and Ultra 2 models sold in the US will still feature an app icon for the blood oxygen monitoring feature, but users attempting to access it will receive a notification informing them of its unavailability.

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While Apple does not provide specific sales figures for its Apple Watch or the US market, the smartwatch plays a crucial role in the company's wearables sales segment, contributing massively to its overall revenue. 

The legal dispute centres around allegations by Masimo that Apple unlawfully acquired its pulse oximetry technology and used it in the Apple Watch. 

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Apple, in turn, has countersued Masimo for patent infringement.

Despite the legal challenges, existing Apple Watches and devices sold outside the United States remain unaffected. 

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Apple has requested a long-term pause on the ITC's import ban, arguing that it is likely to win the appeal and that maintaining the ban would harm the company, its suppliers, and the public. The legal proceedings are expected to continue for several months.

(With Reuters Inputs)

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Published January 18th, 2024 at 08:03 IST

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