President Biden Is Banning Apple Watches?
President Biden has upheld an International Trade Commission ruling that could result in an Apple Watch import ban due to EKG technology it allegedly stole from AliveCor.
President Biden has upheld an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that could result in an Apple Watch import ban due to EKG technology it allegedly stole from AliveCor. The California-based startup shared its sensor electrocardiogram technology with the iPhone maker in 2015 as part of a business relationship.
Three years later, Apple Watch Series 4 was released with an ECG sensor that blocked outside heart monitoring apps, The Hill reports. AliveCor said this forced it to stop selling its Kardia Band in 2019. “We come up with new technologies, and instead of the ecosystem letting us build on the innovations, Apple cuts us out, steals our technology,” CEO Priya Abani said.
In December 2022, the International Trade Commission ruled that Apple infringed AliveCor’s patent. But there is no import ban currently in effect, as the startup is currently appealing a ruling by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office finding that three of the company’s patents in question are invalid. As such, an Apple representative told The Verge that the ITC’s ruling hasn’t impacted the Apple Watch yet.
Meanwhile, the ITC issued the Limited Exclusion Order on the Apple Watch on December 22, 2022, which called for a ban on Apple Watch sales. The document was sent to the White House, which had 60 days to back or block the decision. Speaking to AppleInsider, Abani applauded President Biden for upholding the ruling and holding the tech giant accountable for infringing patents that underpin the industry.
“This decision goes beyond AliveCor,” Abani continued about the Apple Watch ban. This is because it sends a clear message to innovators that the United States will protect patents to build and scale new technologies that benefit consumers. The ITC’s ruling can go into effect upon a favorable resolution of the startup’s appeals with the US. Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
Biden’s decision not to veto the ITC’s Apple Watch ruling differs from the last time the company faced a ban from the government agency. In 2013, it called for a ban on iPhones and iPads due to Apple infringing on Samsung patents. At the time, President Barack Obama vetoed the ban due to pressure from phone carriers and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, The Hill says.
As the appeals process continues, rulings about the Apple Watch won’t take effect for 18 months. Interestingly, the tech company is involved in a similar dispute with Masimo Corp that could lead to a ban on wearable models that violate a patent belonging to the latter. In January, the ITC issued a ruling in favor of Masimo that found the Series 6 infringed on one of its patents, Yahoo! Finance reports.
Patent disputes are not a new phenomenon in the tech industry. And due to the popularity of the Apple Watch, it’ll be surprising if an import ban actually materializes. A more likely result is that AliveCor, Masimo, and other companies are hoping to win a massive licensing fee for Apple to use their patents in various future devices.