Apple Cancels Watch Blood Oxygen Monitoring Feature Due to Patent Dispute
On January 17, Apple announced that it would no longer include the blood oxygen monitoring feature in two flagship smartwatches being sold in the United States, in response to a legal dispute over related patent technology.
Apple stated that the two watches without the mentioned feature would be available for purchase on its official website and physical stores in the United States starting at 2 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time on the 18th.
Earlier on September 7, 2022, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, attended a product launch event. Xinhua News Agency
The United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier on the 17th that the two smartwatches from Apple were involved in a patent dispute with Masmo, a U.S. company, and therefore could not be sold in the American market. Apple’s stock price closed slightly down by 0.5% on that day.
The previously sold smartwatches within the United States can still use the blood oxygen monitoring feature. Other Apple watch products are not affected by the sales ban, and the markets outside the U.S. remain unaffected.
Analysts informed Reuters that resolving this legal dispute might take up to a year. Apple seems willing to remove certain smartwatch features rather than withdraw from the U.S. market.
Apple has not disclosed the sales figures for its smartwatches and other products, but approximately 42% of its annual revenue is derived from the North American market. In the fiscal year 2023, sales of Apple’s wearable devices, primarily smartwatches, accounted for approximately 10.4% of the company’s total sales, totaling $39.84 billion.
Most of Apple’s products are manufactured overseas. In 2021, Masmo filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, alleging that Apple’s pulse oximeter technology, used in its smartwatches since 2020 to monitor blood oxygen levels, infringed Masmo’s patents. In October last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled to ban Apple from importing and selling two smartwatches that use the mentioned technology in the United States.
The sales ban received support from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and was finally enforced on December 26 last year. However, Apple immediately filed an emergency application with the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to delay the ban’s enforcement until the U.S. Customs and Border Protection made relevant decisions. A day later, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals granted Apple’s request, and the two watches resumed their sales through Apple’s official channels later that day.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection needs to confirm whether Apple’s watches still infringe Masmo’s patents after the redesign. According to the Associated Press, court documents submitted by Masmo on the 15th indicated that the Customs and Border Protection had agreed to Apple’s modifications, which involved removing the disputed blood oxygen monitoring feature from the watches.