Biden won’t stop a potential ban on importing Apple Watches

Medical machine maker AliveCor announced right this moment that President Biden has upheld an Worldwide Commerce Fee ruling that would end in a potential import ban on the Apple Watch over its EKG function.

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

Again in December, the ITC issued a final determination that Apple had infringed on AliveCor’s wearable EKG tech. Within the ruling, the ITC beneficial a restricted exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order for Apple Watch fashions with EKG options. If enforced, that may imply that Apple would not have the ability to import Apple Watch with EKG capabilities into the US on the market.

In accordance with Apple spokesperson Hannah Smith, the corporate will enchantment the ITC’s resolution to the Federal Circuit.


A veto from Biden would have rendered the difficulty moot. According to The Hill, whereas presidents typically don’t intrude with ITC rulings, in 2013, former President Obama vetoed a comparable import ban after the ITC dominated that iPhones and iPads infringed on Samsung tech. It’s doable that Apple hoped for historical past to repeat itself, because it reportedly amped up lobbying final week forward of Biden’s resolution.

Biden’s resolution doesn’t imply each Apple Watch from the Collection 4 to the Apple Watch Extremely (excluding each generations of the SE) is about to vanish off cabinets. Apple’s Smith instructed The Verge the ITC’s ruling doesn’t have any actual impression in the meanwhile. That’s as a result of the Patent Trial and Enchantment Board lately dominated that AliveCor’s EKG tech isn’t truly patentable, and AliveCor must win its appeal to that ruling for any potential ban to take impact.

Nevertheless, AliveCor isn’t the one medical tech firm that’s in search of an import ban on the Apple Watch through the ITC. Masimo additionally sued Apple for allegedly infringing on 5 of its pulse oximetry patents. Final month, an ITC decide additionally dominated in Masimo’s favor and can resolve whether or not a potential import ban is warranted in Might. If that’s the case, that import ban would impression any Apple Watch with an SpO2 sensor (i.e., the Collection 6 or later, excluding the SE.)

The Apple watch Series 8 with sensor array lit up

If enforced, the potential import ban would have an effect on the Apple Watch Collection 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and Extremely. Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Patent battles aren’t new. Given the Apple Watch’s reputation and the dimensions of Apple’s coffers, it’ll be shocking if an import ban truly materializes. What’s extra probably is that AliveCor and Masimo — and different corporations pursuing a comparable route — are hoping to win a good-looking licensing payment for Apple to make use of their patents.

Even so, that may additionally probably set a authorized precedent with wide-reaching implications for the way wearable makers strategy future well being tech options, together with blood strain and blood glucose monitoring. These sorts of options are already time and useful resource intensive to develop resulting from FDA clearance procedures. Including licensing and patent battles to the combination would add one other layer of complexity. That’s not essentially a dangerous factor, particularly if it encourages better competitors inside the house. It’s, nonetheless, one thing to remember the subsequent time a wearable well being function isn’t fairly as spectacular because the rumors.

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