March 1, 2024

Apple is reportedly removing the pulse oximeter from the Apple Watch so that it can be imported to the US without legal issues. The device was temporarily banned from import last December after medical tech company Masimo accused Apple of stealing its blood oxygen monitoring technology.

A federal court filing revealed Apple’s intention to redesign the Watch without the pulse oximeter on Monday. First introduced to the Apple Watch Series 6 in 2020, pulse oximeters allow users to measure the oxygen saturation level of their blood, which can be useful for monitoring or detecting medical conditions. Apple’s changes would reportedly remove this functionality from its devices.

According to the filing, US Customs and Border Protection would allow Apple to resume import of its Watches if the contested blood oxygen monitoring technology was removed. Masimo also held no objection to Apple selling devices without pulse oximeters, characterising the proposed Watch modifications as “a positive step toward accountability” for the company.

Masimo’s beef with Apple has been ongoing for years, having first sued the tech giant over alleged trade secret theft in Jan. 2020. The US International Trade Commission subsequently banned the import of all Apple devices that used the contested technology after ruling in favour of Masimo in October last year, making Apple halt sales of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 Watches a few days before Christmas. It then returned them to shelves just one week later after an appeals court put a pause on the ban.

Apple’s proposed redesign doesn’t mean that Apple is giving up on fighting Masimo’s allegations. Still, it may work as a stopgap to at least keep Apple Watches in US stores for now.