Apple developing possible software workaround in response to Apple Watch ban


Earlier today, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is set to halt sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 later this week following an ITC ruling. That ruling came as part of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo.

A new report this evening now corroborates that one avenue Apple is exploring, if the ITC ban is upheld, is a software change to watchOS 10.

The latest on an Apple Watch ban

The International Trade Commission announced its ruling in October, finding that Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor infringes on two Masimo patents, covering five different instances of patent infringements.

The case is currently in its 60-day Presidential Review Period, now set to expire on December 25. The Biden administration can step in and veto the ITC ban but has chosen not to act so far.

As we were first to report on Monday morning, Apple is planning to preemptively remove the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 from its online store in the U.S. after 3 p.m. ET on December 21. In-store sales will come to a halt after December 24.

In my initial coverage of this situation, I noted that Apple has multiple paths forward in this case, including making software changes to watchOS to work around the two Masimo patents.

Bloomberg now reports that Apple engineers are “racing to make changes to algorithms on the device that measure a user’s blood oxygen level.” Apple’s hope is that it can change how the Apple Watch “determines oxygen saturation and presents the data to customers.”

“It’s a high-stakes engineering effort unlike any Apple has undertaken before,” the report says. Still, the patents contested by Masimo are mostly related to hardware aspects of the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor.

Work within Apple suggests that the company believes software changes — rather than a more complicated hardware overhaul — will be enough to bring the device back to store shelves. But the patents at the heart of the dispute are mostly related to hardware, including how light is emitted into the skin to measure the amount of oxygen in a person’s blood.

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed to Bloomberg that it is “working on submitting a workaround to the US customs agency, which is in charge of approving changes to get a product back on the market.”

Masimo, however, says that the Apple Watch’s “hardware needs to change” and that a software fix wouldn’t be adequate.

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Earlier today, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is set to halt sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 later this week following an ITC ruling. That ruling came as part of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo. A new report this evening now corroborates that one…

Earlier today, 9to5Mac reported that Apple is set to halt sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 later this week following an ITC ruling. That ruling came as part of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and medical technology company Masimo. A new report this evening now corroborates that one…

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