Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models could drop support for a health monitoring feature in order to dodge an import ban in the US, according to a report. After the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled last year that Apple could not import and sell its latest smartwatches in the US for infringing on two patents, the company is reportedly planning to disable support for the features on the Apple Watch Series 9 and the high-end Apple Watch Ultra 2.
9to5Mac spotted a legal filing that states Apple’s lawyers have proposed a solution to disable the blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring — or pulse oximetry — feature completely on the company’s latest Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 models. The features could be disabled in the future, in order to circumvent the ban on importing the latest smartwatches in the US imposed by the ITC last year for infringing on two patents held by medical device maker Masimo.
According to the report, disabling the pulse oximetry feature on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 would mean that the products would no longer infringe on the firm’s patents. The features would also not affect existing owners in the US, or all owners outside the country. The ITC ordered a ban on imports of the two smartwatch models in the US after deciding that the Cupertino company’s products infringed on Masimo’s patents related to pulse oximetry features.
Meanwhile, Apple told the publication that until a US appeals court decides on a stay on the import ban during the ITC’s appeal period, Apple will continue to offer support for pulse oximetry on the Apple Watch 9 and Watch Ultra 2. The ITC has opposed Apple’s motion for a stay on the import ban, stating that the company didn’t face ‘irreparable harm’ from the ban as sales of only some models were affected.
Apple put both smartwatch models on sale again in the US at the end of last month, after it won an interim stay from an appellate court in Washington following a ban that saw it pull the listing for the products on December 21 and take them off shelves in the US on December 24. The decision of the appeals court on whether to stay the ban for the duration of the appeal period, is expected to arrive in the coming days.