US ITC says Apple Watch with ECG infringes AliveCor patents, import ban halted

The US International Trade Commission has confirmed that the Apple Watch with an electrocardiogram (ECG) function infringes a patent belonging to medical device manufacturer AliveCor.

The ITC said the import of the infringing watches should be banned, but it will not enforce the ban until appeals are completed in a separate dispute before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). ), where a panel found AliveCor patents invalid earlier this month.

The Biden administration will have 60 days to decide whether to veto the import ban based on policy concerns. The Commission placed a bond of $2 (approximately Rs 170) for each infringing Apple device imported during the presidential review period, which was also suspended while appeals against the decision were made. USPTO decision is pending.

Presidents have rarely vetoed import bans in the past. The parties may appeal the ban to the United States Court of Appeals after the review period ends.

Apple said in a statement that it “firmly” disagrees with the ITC’s decision but is pleased the import ban has been put on hold.

AliveCor CEO Priya Abani said in a statement that the decision underscores the importance of intellectual property rights for companies “whose innovations are at risk of being oppressed by a Goliath such as Apple.”

AliveCor accused Apple last year of infringing on three patents related to KardiaBand, one Apple Watch The accessory monitors the user’s heart rate, detects abnormalities, and performs an electrocardiogram to identify heart problems such as atrial fibrillation.

Mountain View, California-based AliveCor stopped selling the device in 2018 after Apple launched its own ECG feature in smartwatches. AliveCor told ITC last year that Apple copied its technology starting from Apple Watch Series 4 and pushed AliveCor off the market by making its operating system incompatible with KardiaBand.

Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 have ECG technology. Apple introduced the Series 8 most recently in September.

A group of Democratic congressional representatives asked the ITC in October not to ban imports of Apple Watches, many of which are made in China, even as the ITC ruled in favor of AliveCor, in favor of establishing Apple argued that restricting access to the tech giant’s heart-monitoring technology would have a negative public health impact.

The USPTO’s Patent Hearings and Appeals Panel declared AliveCor’s patent invalid at Apple’s request in a related lawsuit on December 6. The tech giant also sued. AliveCor in San Francisco federal court for alleged patent infringement.

AliveCor has sued Apple separately in California federal court for allegedly monopolizing the US market for Apple Watch heart rate monitoring apps, and has filed a lawsuit against Apple for related patent infringement in federal court. Texas.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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