Apple again banned from selling watches in U.S. with blood oxygen sensor

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Apple smartwatches ads are displayed as customers take a look at smartwatch accessories at the Apple store in New York, U.S., December 26, 2023. 
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Apple will again be barred from selling watches with blood oxygen sensors beginning Thursday, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

The ban could complicate Apple’s operations and weigh on its sales.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit lifted an interim stay which had previously allowed sales of the Apple Watch 9 to resume.

Still, the court left the door open for a possible Apple victory. “We reach no conclusion on the merits of the appeal,” the court said.

The decision is a blow to Apple, which was previously forced to remove the latest Apple Watches from its U.S. stores for several days in December. Apple may be forced to remove a blood oxygen sensor feature on its latest devices in order to keep the smartwatches on the U.S. market.

The ban stems from an intellectual property dispute with Masimo, a medical device company. In October, the International Trade Commission found that Apple’s blood oxygen sensors had infringed on Masimo’s intellectual property.

Earlier this week, court filings suggested that Apple had received approval from U.S. customs for a modified version of its Apple Watches that lack the blood oxygen feature and therefore no longer infringe on Masimo’s intellectual property. It could open a path for a modified Apple Watch to return to U.S. store shelves. An Apple representative earlier this week declined to comment on the Customs decision.

Masimo had alleged that Apple had poached several of its top executives and copied its technology after declining a partnership.

If Apple must continue to keep its latest smartwatches from U.S. stores, it could complicate repairs at Apple stores, which often swap broken devices with replacements.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the denial.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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