Apple Watches including an electrocardiogram feature could be barred from sale in the United States, after the Biden administration agreed to let stand a ruling by the International Trade Commission that Apple infringed on patents held by AliveCor.
To enact a ban on imports of some Apple Watches, AliveCor still needs to win an appeal of a separate patent case before a federal appeals court.
“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,” AliveCor CEO Priya Abani said in a Tuesday statement. “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.”
Apple could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
The case between the two companies centers on AliveCor’s patents for its electrocardiogram (ECG) technology. The Mountain View, California-based company developed a wristband that could be attached to the Apple Watch to detect heart rhythm, but pulled the product from the market two years later, after Apple received FDA clearance for its own built-in ECG feature.
In December, the ITC found that Apple Watches with this feature infringed on AliveCor’s patents, and those watches should be banned from import. It set a bond of $2 per unit for infringing devices imported or sold during the presidential review period.
However, the ITC won’t enforce a ban on the devices until a separate case between the two companies is resolved. Shortly before its decision, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that AliveCor’s claims were unpatentable. AliveCor is appealing that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.