With an import ban looming over the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 due to a patent dispute with medical firm Masimo, Apple engineers scramble against the clock on a potential software workaround. But will tweaks to blood oxygen measurement algorithms satisfy the courts and rescue Apple’s wearable sales?
At issue is the Watch’s ability to gauge blood oxygen levels, a feature Masimo claims infringes on its intellectual property. Apple aims to sidestep a ban by adjusting how readings get determined and presented to sidestep protected elements.
Multiple sources report efforts currently underway within Apple to ship updates reconfiguring the Watch’s pulse oximetry. However, Masimo remains unconvinced software alone fixes the infringement, insisting only hardware modifications suffice.
Ultimately the decision lies with U.S. Customs on whether Apple’s adjustments satisfy the International Trade Commission’s original import ban ruling, with the ITC’s 60-day presidential review period ending December 25th, Apple is cutting it close.
If Apple’s software patch gets approved, crisis averted with minimal Watch availability gaps. Should customs deem it inadequate, Apple faces halting all U.S. imports of its newest models.
Assessing sales impacts and duration if the ban kicks in proves tricky. While some industry analysts try estimating numbers, unpredictable variables in play like inventory stockpiles and third-party importer workarounds mean projections lack hard data.
And with near-term supply already flooded with existing Watch inventory, the true dampening effects might play out gradually even if the ban persists for months.
In the end, whether Apple can leverage software tweaks to claim blood oxygen IP infringement fixed, skirting sale disruptions, hangs in the balance. We’ll find out soon whether customs calls Apple’s workaround sufficient as the year-end deadline for Presidential veto fast approaches!