Apple Watch Faces Import Ban as President Biden Upholds ITC Ruling

U.S. President Joe Biden today issued a decision to uphold a December ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that threatens to ban Apple from importing select Apple Watch models into the country (via 9to5Mac).

Back in December, the ITC ruled that the ECG functionality on some Apple Watch models infringes on three of health tech company AliveCor’s patents. Apple and AliveCor have been embroiled in a patent battle since 2021, and Biden’s decision is a pretty big win for the latter.

“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 AliveCor CEO Priya Abani.

“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.”

Alongside its December ruling, the ITC issued a cease and desist order to prohibit Apple from importing Apple Watch models that breach AliveCor’s patents into the U.S. These include the latest Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra, both of which feature an ECG sensor.

However, the import ban was put on hold after the Patent Trial and Appeal Board declared all three of the AliveCor patents in question to be invalid — a decision that AliveCor promptly appealed. AliveCor’s appeal of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision is ongoing, and its result will determine whether or not the Apple Watch import ban goes into effect.

If Alivecor’s patents are deemed valid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the ITC’s full “Limited Exclusion Order” would go into effect and Apple would be forced to stop selling some of its most popular Apple Watch models in the U.S.

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