Apple Watch still faces US import ban after President Biden upholds patent ruling

The battle between Apple and startup AliveCor rumbles on
Wareable apple ecg app alivecor
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The Biden administration has declined the opportunity to veto the US import ban facing the Apple Watch.

The judgment comes off the back of the US International Trade Commission's (ITC) ruling from December that determined the Apple Watch infringes upon patents owned by startup AliveCor.

The patents relate to the ECG functionality present in Apple's newer smartwatches, with a suspended import ban initially imposed on 22 December. Following the Biden administration's 60-day review of the ban, AliveCor announced in a statement that it was informed the ITC's decision wouldn't be overruled.

"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 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," he said.

However, this is far from the end of the story.

The import ban remains suspended due to a related dispute regarding AliveCor's patents, which, on 6 December, were invalidated by the US Patent & Trade Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board. This is a decision the medical company says it will appeal.

The suspended ban, then, will hang over Apple until the patent dispute makes its way fully through the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, while both parties will also be able to appeal through the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Back in December, off the back of the ITC ruling, Apple said in a statement: "While we firmly disagree with the ITC's decision, 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."

President Biden's decision to not intervene in the spat is certainly a blow to Apple, but, ultimately, this is one that will continue to rumble on over the next few months. Stay tuned for more updates.

This article was first published on Monday, 20 February and was updated on Wednesday, 22 February to reflect the Biden administration's decision and AliveCor's official comment. 

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

Related stories