US tech giant Apple is set to pull a feature from its brand of smartwatches that enables measurement of a user’s blood oxygen levels, following an international patent dispute.
The Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 were previously banned in the United States after the International Trade Commission (ITC) sided with California-based health-tech firm, Masimo who brought a claim of patent infringement against Apple claiming that they had infringed on two key Masimo patents.
Previously, Apple was brought before the Commission by medical technology firm, Masimo, alleging that Apple had infringed on their US patents for light-based technology to measure blood oxygen saturation. Namely, the company had infringed on patents 10,912,502 and 10,945,648, both of which are claimed by Masimo. The ruling means that Apple could not sell or import watches with the offending feature in the United States.
Now, a letter filed to the US Court of Appeals by Masimo confirms that Apple has redesigned its iWatch features to fall outside of the scope of Masimo’s patents. Namely, removing the pulse oximetry features.
Written by intellectual property legal firm, Knobbe Martens, on behalf of Masimo, the letter reads: “On Friday, January 12, the Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch of US Customs and Border Protection decided that Apple’s redesign falls outside the scope of the remedial orders in the ITC Investigation underlying Apple’s appeal.
“Apple explained that its Redesigned Watch Products definitively do not contain pulse oximetry functionality.”
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Following this ruling and in the run-up to the appeals phase of the hearing, Apple repeatedly sought to call for a pause on the ban arguing that it would cause irreparable harm to the corporation but was rebuffed by the Federal Trade Commission who dismissed the request for a pause on the ban.
Responding to the request the ITC said in an official statement: “There is no legal error in the Commission’s final determination and Apple essentially and improperly asks the Court to reweigh the evidence supporting the Commission’s factual findings, all of which are supported by substantial evidence.
“Equally weak are Apple’s irreparable harm arguments. Contrary to Apple’s assertions, Apple’s harm is not unquantifiable, but rather speculative.”
Following the initial decision there was some hope for Apple that the Joe Biden administration could intercede on the company’s behalf and veto the decision, however, the deadline for this has now passed.
It comes at the same time as another significant patent dispute in the US medical device space, as a US District Court for the District of Delaware denied CareDx’s motion for summary judgment on two Natera patents.