Apple Watch Risks US Import Ban After Biden Administration Upholds Patent Ruling

The Biden administration has declined to overrule a U.S. International Trade Commission decision that the Apple Watch infringes patents from medical device company AliveCor, potentially paving the way for an import ban on Apple's smartwatch depending on how the appeals process pans out.

apple watch ecg wrist
California-based AliveCor said in a statement that it was informed the Biden administration would not overrule a December decision from the ITC that found the Apple Watch infringed AliveCor health monitoring patents related to electrocardiogram technology. From AliveCor's press release:

"We applaud President Biden for upholding the ITC's ruling and holding Apple accountable for infringing the patents that underpin our industry-leading ECG technology," said Priya Abani, CEO of AliveCor. "This decision goes beyond AliveCor and sends a clear message to innovators that the U.S. will protect patents to build and scale new technologies that benefit consumers."

In the December ruling, the ITC recommended a limited exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order for Apple Watch models with ECG features. Were it to be enforced, Apple would no longer be able to import new Apple Watch models that support the ECG app. Apple plans to appeal the ITC's decision in a federal courthouse.

While the ITC decision could end up in an Apple Watch ban, the US Patent and Trademark Office in December also invalidated some of AliveCor's patents, which the medical tech company says it will appeal. At the time, Apple said the ITC's decision confirms that the patents AliveCor asserted in the ITC against Apple cannot be infringed.

AliveCor and Apple are embroiled in several legal battles, as AliveCor has also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Apple has sued AliveCor for patent infringement. Apple is also battling a patent infringement case brought by medical technology company Masimo, which asserts Apple Watch models that use light sensors to measure blood oxygen levels infringe its pulse oximeter patents.

Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
18 months ago

Why is the Biden administration always siding against Apple? They were also pushing back on the App Store.
They’re siding with patent law. Guessing you ignore all the times Apple defended their patents. Not a surprise though.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiiDSmoker Avatar
18 months ago
And boy did they patent it!!!!
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
No5tromo Avatar
18 months ago
I fed ChatGPT with the article and asked it to estimate the probability of a ban


It's difficult to predict the probability of a ban on Apple Watch models with ECG features as it depends on the outcome of Apple's appeal against the ITC decision. It's also possible that Apple could find a workaround to the patents in question, or that the two companies could reach a settlement agreement outside of court. Ultimately, only time will tell how this situation will play out.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
User 6502 Avatar
18 months ago

Shame. That feature saves lives.

I guess the chickens are coming home to roost, Apple used to patent troll a lot in the past.
Apple definitely did a lot of patent trolling but in this case their is no patent trolling involved. AliveCor did not come up with some vague patent without a legitimate product. They actually make and sell products that use this technology. Apple just stole it and that of course is illegal. There probably won’t be a ban, but apple can’t simply disable the ECG feature either as they advertised and sold the product with that feature in many markets, so this would expose them to huge class actions. I suspect apple will just have to open their wallet and pay substantial amounts to AliveCor for the past violations and possibly royalties for each new Apple Watch sold henceforth.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VulchR Avatar
18 months ago

Apple definitely did a lot of patent trolling but in this case their is no patent trolling involved. AliveCor did not come up with some vague patent without a legitimate product. They actually make and sell products that use this technology. Apple just stole it and that of course is illegal. There probably won’t be a ban, but apple can’t simply disable the ECG feature either as they advertised and sold the product with that feature in many markets, so this would expose them to huge class actions. I suspect apple will just have to open their wallet and pay substantial amounts to AliveCor for the past violations and possibly royalties for each new Apple Watch sold henceforth.
??? ECG has been measured for quite some time, and using characteristics from the ECG to diagnose heart conditions has been around for quite some time, and using machine learning to predict heart problems from ECG parameters is a trivial application of statistics. AliveCor has already had patents invalidated in the case if I read the various MR stories about this correctly (I am no lawyer).

In other news, a company files a patent on how to boil water. :rolleyes:
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StellarVixen Avatar
18 months ago
Shame. That feature saves lives.

I guess the chickens are coming home to roost, Apple used to patent troll a lot in the past.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)