The office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced on Tuesday that the Biden administration would not overturn a U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling that could prevent imports of Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) Apple Watches for violating patents held by AliveCor Inc. linked to heart monitoring.
The ITC’s Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) on Apple Watches that violates the patents of medical device manufacturer AliveCor is the first LEO against Apple to pass presidential approval as of today. A ban on Apple Watch Series 4 and later sales in the US due to patent infringement has not been blocked by President Biden, but the ban still relies on AliveCor having a patent trial verdict overturned on appeal.
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This information comes in response to the ITC’s December finding that the Apple Watch violates patents owned by AliveCor in relation to the electrocardiogram technology used in Apple’s most recent wearables. AliveCor claimed that Apple violated three patents in connection with the KardiaBand, an accessory for the Apple Watch that tracks a user’s heart rate, looks for irregularities and conducts an electrocardiogram to spot heart conditions like atrial fibrillation.
The ITC also made a decision regarding a cease-and-desist order, which, if put into effect, would forbid Apple from bringing any Apple watches into the country for sale. There is a chance that the Apple Watch will be outlawed in the US as a result of the White House’s choice not to intervene and stop the ITC’s decision in its tracks.
The most recent ITC decision automatically started a review procedure during which President Biden might have to decide whether or not to accept what was being referred to as the Final Determination. Now that the time for the Presidential Review has passed, theoretically, a prohibition could be implemented.
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However, the outcome of a related appeal will determine whether the LEO will be enforced. Three of the AliveCor patents that were being used to sue Apple were declared void by the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board in the first few days of December 2022. The LEO will become effective once all appeals in the matter have been decided, including AliveCor’s appeal of the ruling by the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board that the claimed patents were not patentable.
The ITC kept moving forward with its LEO; however, AliveCor is currently appealing the patent ruling. The world is keeping a close eye on the situation in the coming weeks as Apple’s hugely popular wearables face serious threats to their existence.
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