Apple to remove pulse oximeter from watches to avoid sales ban

Apple Watch patent dispute enters 4th year

Where Apple Watch patent dispute stands after 4 years of court battles 02:22

Apple is removing a blood oxygen measurement tool from two of its watch models to avoid a sales ban on the devices in the U.S., Bloomberg reported. 

Late last year, Apple halted sales of its Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 Apple Watch models over a years-long patent dispute with health technology company Masimo, a maker of pulse oximeters. The tool measures the saturation of oxygen in the device wearer’s red blood cells. Low blood oxygen levels can lead to serious health conditions, including damage to the brain, heart and other organs, according to Cleveland Clinic. 

Apple pulled the watches from store shelves after the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the watches’ blood oxygen sensors violated Masimo’s patents. The devices were banned on December 26. Apple appealed the decision and the ban was paused, allowing the tech giant to resume watch sales in the U.S.

“Positive step”

In a statement, Masimo called Apple’s move to remove the tool from its watches “a positive step toward accountability.”

“It is especially important that one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies respects the intellectual property rights of smaller companies and complies with ITC orders when it is caught infringing,” a Masimo spokesperson said.

Modified Apple watches have already been shipped to the company’s retail stores in the U.S., but it has not yet approved them for sale, Bloomberg reported. Apple Watch buyers who want the blood oxygen measurement tool should check to make sure it’s included. 

Apple did not immediately reply to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment. In December, the company said it opposed the ITC’s ruling and would pursue workarounds. 

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Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News streaming to discuss her reporting.

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