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  • Kyle Chua

Apple Watches May Infringe US Patent, No Import Ban Yet

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has affirmed an earlier ruling that Apple Watches with the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature infringe on the patents of medical device maker AliveCor – a ruling that could impact the sales of the popular wearable.

Credit: Apple

According to a Reuters report, the commission wants to ban imports of the smartwatches, though it won't enforce anything until a separate dispute before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is settled.


U.S. President Biden also has a 60-day period to review the ruling and decide whether to veto it or not based on policy concerns. A bond of US$2 for each infringing Apple device imported during the presidential review period was also set. The report, however, notes that, historically, presidents rarely veto import bans.


Among the devices that could be affected by the ban include the Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6 and 7, along with the Series 8 and Ultra, which only debuted in September of this year.


If the ban were to be eventually enforced, Apple could be forced to pull the aforementioned smartwatches from the U.S. market.


In a statement, Apple said it "firmly" disagreed with the ITC ruling but was pleased the import ban is not being enforced yet. AliveCor, meanwhile, said the ruling was a "win for innovation and consumer choice". The two parties can appeal the ban before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit after the review period ends.

AliveCor's KardiaBand. Credit: AliveCor

AliveCor last year accused Apple of infringing three patents related to its KardiaBand, a wristband accessory for the Apple Watch that can monitor the wearer’s heart rate and perform other ECG functions. The healthtech company halted sales of the device in 2018 after Apple implemented its own ECG features in its wearables. It then went to the ITC, alleging the Cupertino tech giant copied its technology and drove it out of the market.

 
  • The U.S. ITC has affirmed an earlier ruling that Apple Watches with the ECG feature infringe on the patents of AliveCor – a ruling that could impact the sales of the popular wearable.

  • The commission wants to ban imports of the smartwatches, though it won't enforce anything until a separate dispute before the USPTO is settled.

  • U.S. President Biden also has a 60-day period to review the ruling and decide whether to veto it or not based on policy concerns.

  • If the ban were to be eventually enforced, Apple could be forced to pull the Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6 and 7, along with the Series 8 and Ultra, from the U.S. market.











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