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Bad news for Apple Watch users waiting for the blood oxygen sensor to return

Published Mar 13th, 2024 8:08AM EDT
Apple Watch Ultra 2 with blood oxygen feature / Apple Watch ban
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Almost two months since Apple halted sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 with the blood oxygen feature, a new document published by the US Customs and Border Protection shows when Cupertino might finally be able to reinstate this technology.

According to the document (via ipfray), the patent Apple infringed is set to expire in August 2028. That said, if the US International Trade Commission doesn’t accept Apple’s appeal before this date, the Cupertino firm could reinstate the blood oxygen feature.

Still, it could be quite a long time before Apple is able to bring back this feature to Apple Watch users. Unless Apple finds a way to develop a blood oxygen sensor that doesn’t infringe the patent in question, the functionality might not be back until the company unveils the Apple Watch Series 14.

That said, Cupertino will likely find another way to reinstate this feature sooner rather than later. Below, BGR explains the timeline of this Apple Watch blood oxygen feature ban.

Apple Watch blood oxygen ban explained

On December 18, Apple announced it might have to stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 in the United States due to a legal battle. According to the statement, the company would stop selling these smartwatches as soon as 3:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 21, while in-store inventory would not be available from physical Apple locations after December 24.

This ban was due to the US International Trade Commission agreeing that Apple infringed two of another company’s blood oxygen patents. This decision was sent to Biden’s Administration for the Presidential Review Period, which expired on December 25.

The President decided not to revoke ITC’s decision. For a few days, Apple removed the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 from sales. Then, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit paused the import ban, considering Apple’s request to continue selling the smartwatches during the appeal process.

By mid-January, the court officially denied Apple’s request. As a result, Apple Watch models with blood oxygen features were once again halted as of January 18 at 2:00 PM PT / 5:00 PM ET. With that, Cupertino is now selling these devices in its stores without this technology.

That said, if you need to buy a Series 9, buy it at a third-party store, such as Amazon, Target, or Walmart, as they can still sell the model with a blood oxygen monitor, as long as they have any left in stock.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.