With Import Ban Pending, Apple Watch Eyed for Alleged AliveCor Patent Violations

The steady march forward of the Apple Watch in the medtech wearables space has stumbled into a hurdle. The popular product’s electrocardiogram (ECG) function has been found to infringe on existing patents belonging to AliveCor, Inc., a mobile device-focused AI and medical device developer. The U.S. International Trade Commission announced that all imports of Apple Watches should be prohibited, with an actual decree hinging on the completion of appeals in a recent, separate case before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), wherein AliveCor’s patents were found to be invalid.

Now, a 60-day period has begun in which the Biden administration must decide whether or not to cite policy concerns in vetoing the import ban. A bond of $2 for each infringing device imported during this two-month window, set by the commission, is also suspended amid the appeals process in the USPTO case. Presidential vetoes for import bans are a rarity.

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This is not the first spat between Apple and its accuser. AliveCor last year called out the tech giant for infringing on three patents for its KardiaBand Apple Watch accessory, which can monitor users’ heart rates to find irregularities and also perform its own ECGs for spotting issues such as atrial fibrillation.