Apple Watch a step closer to ban in the United States after President Biden upholds ruling

Clockwork Synergy Apple Watch Band
(Image credit: Clockwork Synergy)

The Apple Watch is one step closer to a ban in the United States after President Biden’s administration upheld Apple’s infringements. 

As of today, the International Trade Commission’s Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) on Apple Watches infringing on AliveCor, a medical device company, patents became the first-ever LEO against Apple to clear Presidential review.

This news follows on from the ITC’s ruling in December that the Apple Watch infringes AliveCor patents regarding the electrocardiogram technology used in Apple’s latest smartwatches. The ITC also ruled on a cease and desist order, which if enforced, would prevent Apple from importing any Apple Watch into the United States for sale. 

Responding to the confirmation of the Presidential review clearance, Priya Abani, CEO of AliveCor. said, “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,”

"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."

So long, dear friend?

This now means that we have reached an unprecedented stage of a small company going against a huge powerhouse in the tech industry like Apple. With the decision of The White House to not intervene and prevent the ITC’s ruling from progressing there is a real possibility that the Apple Watch is banned in the United States. 

In a statement in December, Apple previously said "While we firmly disagree with the ITC's decision [in December], we are pleased that the exclusion order has been put on pause, consistent with past precedent. The patents on which AliveCor’s case rest have been found invalid, and for that reason, we should ultimately prevail in this matter." This refers to a Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruling in favor of Apple, AliveCor's case is based on two patents that have since been found to be invalid. As a result, an exclusion action means any such ruling wouldn't have a practical impact on Apple Watch until the PTAB case is heard. 

Apple told iMore that it plans to appeal the ITC's original decision, and has submitted lots of evidence to show a decision to ban Apple Watch would be bad for the public, including letters from over 500 Apple Watch users who have had their lives saved by the device. 

The LEO will go into effect upon resolution of all appeals in the case, including AliveCor’s appeal of the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision that found the asserted patents unpatentable. This means that there are still twists and turns to this story as Apple is likely to use its seemingly unlimited lobbying power to protect Apple Watch sales in the U.S.

We’ll be watching with a huge interest in the coming weeks as the future of Apple’s immensely popular smartwatches comes under severe threat.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.