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Apple Hurries to Update Watches Before Ban Begins

Apple Hurries to Update Watches Before Ban Begins

Apple is reportedly scrambling to update its smartwatches ahead of a U.S. ban.

The tech giant’s engineers are working to change the devices’ algorithms that measure users’ blood oxygen levels, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (Dec. 19).

It’s that feature that led medical technology Masimo to argue that Apple had violated its patent rights. Apple is now adjusting how the technology measures oxygen saturation and shows the data to customers, per the report.

The work is happening days before a U.S. government ban on the sale of Apple’s watches — related to Masimo’s complaint — is set to go into effect.

“It’s a high-stakes engineering effort unlike any Apple has undertaken before,” the report said, as the company attempts to rescue a $17 billion business in the middle of the holiday shopping season.

PYMNTS has contacted Apple for comment but has not yet gotten a reply.

Masimo sued Apple in 2020, alleging the company stole trade secrets connected to health monitoring technology and poached key staff members. Masimo created what is known as signal processing technology for healthcare monitors and argued Apple pretended to forge a relationship with the company only to hire away important workers and steal its tech.

In October, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple’s watch violates Masimo’s patent, setting up the potential ban.

At the time, Apple said, “Masimo has wrongly attempted to use the ITC to keep a potentially life-saving product from millions of U.S. consumers while making way for their own watch that copies Apple.”

News of the company’s last-minute efforts to rescue the watch comes one day after reports that Apple was preparing to halt sales of the watches to comply with the ban, which would affect the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2.

President Joe Biden could review the ITC decision and overrule it. The deadline for that to happen is Christmas Day.

Apple is working on a variety of legal and technical solutions to the ban, per the Bloomberg report. It has begun preparing stores for the change by sending new signage promoting the watch without featuring photos of the Series 9 or Ultra 2. The company’s SE watches are not impacted by the ban.