If you bought an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 without the pulse oximeter, you still might get it

Remember in late December and the middle of January when we had a new story about the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 almost every day? To refresh your memory, health tech firm Masimo had sued Apple for infringing on certain patents related to the pulse oximeter found on the two aforementioned Apple timepieces. An International Trade Commission (ITC) judge ruled that Apple did infringe on some of the patents.
The ITC issued an exclusion order stating that the watches in question could be banned from import into the U.S. unless Apple paid to license the patent, changed the feature so it no longer infringed on the patent, or removed the pulse oximeter from the offending models. After removing the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from U.S. Apple Stores, both online and brick and mortar, Apple received a two-week temporary stay from the import ban while it appealed the ITC’s ruling. Eventually, the temporary stay ended and Apple had to remove the impacted products from its U.S. stores once again.

President Biden could have made the whole thing go away by using his Veto stamp on the exclusion order, but he failed to do so. Apple tried to figure out a way to offer the pulse oximeter without Masimo’s patents, but could not come up with a solution. As a result, it now sells the two timepieces without the pulse oximeter which is used to measure the amount of oxygen in a person’s red blood cells. It measures how well your body is pushing oxygen to your extremities like your arms and legs. A low reading could be a sign of hypoxia which means that not enough oxygen is reaching your body’s tissues.

According to MacRumors, the original order from the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that allows Apple to import Apple Watch models into the U.S. with the pulse oximeter disabled reveals how Apple got rid of the feature on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. Once paired with an iPhone, a necessary step in setting up an Apple Watch, both models lost the pulse oximeter feature. Trying to run it on impacted units brings up a warning to users that it is not available.

Apple had to provide Masimo with the code it used to disable the pulse oximeter feature on the Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watch models. To make sure that Apple didn’t make it too simple to bring back the feature, it took a jailbroken Apple iPhone running an older version of iOS and paired it with Apple Watch models that could not run the pulse oximeter. Masimo got upset when it discovered that it could bring back the feature by doing this.

Masimo argued that this meant that Apple had not really removed the pulse oximeter from the impacted timepieces. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol disagreed and said that Apple had done enough to say that the redesigned Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models did not infringe on Masimo’s patents. As a result, when the patents Apple infringed on expire in August 2028, or if Apple wins an appeal that is in progress, those who bought the two Apple Watch models without having access to the pulse oximeter can have Apple reinstall the featureĀ  quickly.

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