Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 sales face a renewed ban as the US Court of Appeals rules against Apple. The court’s decision denies a pause on the ban, emphasizing the court’s determination based on legal factors. The ban, effective tomorrow, stems from a dispute with medical device company Masimo over patented blood oxygen technology. Apple’s proposed software change is deemed insufficient, leading to a halt in sales while the court reviews the case.
The legal saga began at the end of 2023 when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) initially banned the sale of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 due to a patent dispute with Masimo. The medical technology company accused Apple of infringing on its patents related to a smartwatch sensor designed for blood-oxygen monitoring.
Despite Apple’s appeal and a temporary stay on the ban, the recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has put a halt to the company’s efforts to continue selling these wearables. The court, in its determination, considered several factors, including the likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable harm, potential injury to other parties, and the public interest.
Interestingly, the US Customs agency recently ruled that Apple’s proposed software change, aimed at removing the blood oxygen features from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, falls outside the scope of the ITC ruling. This ruling implies that as long as these devices do not “contain pulse oximetry features,” they do not infringe on Masimo patents. However, the court’s decision seems to override this ruling, emphasizing the complexity of the legal landscape.
While Apple may continue selling the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Series 9, it faces the challenge of disabling the blood oxygen feature via a firmware update. This modification, however, will only apply to newly-sold devices in the United States and will not impact existing owners of Apple Watches with pulse oximetry features.
The legal setback prompts Apple to reconsider its strategy, with potential implications for both sales and reputation. The court’s decision, while not conclusive on the merits of the appeal, adds a layer of uncertainty to the future of these Apple Watch models. Apple’s ongoing efforts to find a workaround, including the removal of the blood oxygen sensor and the redesign of new Watch models, highlight the company’s determination to navigate through these legal challenges.
As the ban takes effect, Apple’s response to the court ruling and its plans for the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 remain awaited. The coming months may witness a continued legal battle and potential developments in the technology features of these popular wearables.