Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Biden declines to veto Apple Watch ban

The Hill:

President Biden has upheld an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that could result in an import ban on the Apple Watch, according to AliveCor, a medical device company that has accused Apple of patent infringement.

The administration’s decision to uphold a potential ban on imports of the tech product sets the stage for a high-stakes legal battle.

Following the most recent ITC ruling, Apple hired the former chairwoman of the ITC to lobby on its behalf, in an apparent effort to secure a presidential veto. 

The dispute dates back to 2018, when Apple launched Apple Watch models with built-in electrocardiogram sensors, forcing AliveCor to cancel sales of its heart monitoring accessory. AliveCor said that it first shared its technology with Apple in 2015 in an effort to secure a partnership.

The Verge:

“We applaud President Biden for upholding the ITC’s ruling and holding Apple accountable for infringing the patents that underpin our industry-leading EKG technology,” AliveCor CEO Priya Abani said in a statement sent to The Verge.

Back in December, the ITC issued a final determination that Apple had infringed on AliveCor’s wearable EKG tech. If enforced, that would mean that Apple would no longer be able to import Apple Watch with EKG capabilities into the US for sale.

Biden’s decision doesn’t mean every Apple Watch from the Series 4 to the Apple Watch Ultra (excluding both generations of the SE) is about to disappear off shelves.

However, AliveCor isn’t the only medical tech company that’s seeking an import ban on the Apple Watch via the ITC. Masimo also sued Apple for allegedly infringing on five of its pulse oximetry patents.

That lawsuit is also still in the works but recently an ITC judge ruled in Masimo's favor.


The Biden administration on Tuesday declined to overrule a US International Trade Commission decision that the Apple Watch had infringed health monitoring patents from medical device company AliveCor. As a result, the tech giant could face an import ban of its infringing Apple Watches, depending on how appeals work out.

Apple, for its part, said in December that it expects to prevail in the case because AliveCor's patents had been found invalid. It plans to appeal the ITC's decision to federal court. 

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