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The Biden administration has declined to overrule a U.S. International Trade Commission decision that the Apple Watch infringes patents from medical device company AliveCor, potentially paving the way for an import ban on Apple's smartwatch depending on how the appeals process pans out.

apple-watch-ecg-wrist.jpg

California-based AliveCor said in a statement that it was informed the Biden administration would not overrule a December decision from the ITC that found the Apple Watch infringed AliveCor health monitoring patents related to electrocardiogram technology. From AliveCor's press release:
"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," said Priya Abani, CEO of AliveCor. "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."
In the December ruling, the ITC recommended a limited exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order for Apple Watch models with ECG features. Were it to be enforced, Apple would no longer be able to import new Apple Watch models that support the ECG app. Apple plans to appeal the ITC's decision in a federal courthouse.

While the ITC decision could end up in an Apple Watch ban, the US Patent and Trademark Office in December also invalidated some of AliveCor's patents, which the medical tech company says it will appeal. At the time, Apple said the ITC's decision confirms that the patents AliveCor asserted in the ITC against Apple cannot be infringed.

AliveCor and Apple are embroiled in several legal battles, as AliveCor has also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Apple has sued AliveCor for patent infringement. Apple is also battling a patent infringement case brought by medical technology company Masimo, which asserts Apple Watch models that use light sensors to measure blood oxygen levels infringe its pulse oximeter patents.

Article Link: Apple Watch Risks US Import Ban After Biden Administration Upholds Patent Ruling
 
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No5tromo

macrumors 6502
Feb 17, 2012
427
1,101
I fed ChatGPT with the article and asked it to estimate the probability of a ban

It's difficult to predict the probability of a ban on Apple Watch models with ECG features as it depends on the outcome of Apple's appeal against the ITC decision. It's also possible that Apple could find a workaround to the patents in question, or that the two companies could reach a settlement agreement outside of court. Ultimately, only time will tell how this situation will play out.
 

User 6502

macrumors 65816
Mar 6, 2014
1,117
4,209
Shame. That feature saves lives.

I guess the chickens are coming home to roost, Apple used to patent troll a lot in the past.
Apple definitely did a lot of patent trolling but in this case their is no patent trolling involved. AliveCor did not come up with some vague patent without a legitimate product. They actually make and sell products that use this technology. Apple just stole it and that of course is illegal. There probably won’t be a ban, but apple can’t simply disable the ECG feature either as they advertised and sold the product with that feature in many markets, so this would expose them to huge class actions. I suspect apple will just have to open their wallet and pay substantial amounts to AliveCor for the past violations and possibly royalties for each new Apple Watch sold henceforth.
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68040
Mar 1, 2018
3,208
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Somewhere between 0 and 1
I suspect apple will just have to open their wallet and pay substantial amounts to AliveCor for the past violations and possibly royalties for each new Apple Watch sold henceforth.
Yeah, I also believe this is most likely to happen.

I am also not saying that AliveCor is patent trolling, just pointing out how much Apple used to do it in the past.
 

laptech

macrumors 68040
Apr 26, 2013
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It would seem the patent office is working in Apples favor in trying to find ways to undermine AliveCor chances of winning by invalidating some of their patents. This would then allow Apple to challenge the original ITC ruling.

I do not live in the US and therefore do not profess about knowing everything about the US and Apple but this case is making me wonder, has the US (government or one of it's institutions) ever hit Apple with massive penalties for breaking corporate law (patent, IP, copyright) with Apple not being able to win with their forever constant appealing?
 
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VulchR

macrumors 68040
Jun 8, 2009
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Scotland
Apple definitely did a lot of patent trolling but in this case their is no patent trolling involved. AliveCor did not come up with some vague patent without a legitimate product. They actually make and sell products that use this technology. Apple just stole it and that of course is illegal. There probably won’t be a ban, but apple can’t simply disable the ECG feature either as they advertised and sold the product with that feature in many markets, so this would expose them to huge class actions. I suspect apple will just have to open their wallet and pay substantial amounts to AliveCor for the past violations and possibly royalties for each new Apple Watch sold henceforth.
??? ECG has been measured for quite some time, and using characteristics from the ECG to diagnose heart conditions has been around for quite some time, and using machine learning to predict heart problems from ECG parameters is a trivial application of statistics. AliveCor has already had patents invalidated in the case if I read the various MR stories about this correctly (I am no lawyer).

In other news, a company files a patent on how to boil water. :rolleyes:
 

laptech

macrumors 68040
Apr 26, 2013
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??? ECG has been measured for quite some time, and using characteristics from the ECG to diagnose heart conditions has been around for quite some time, and using machine learning to predict heart problems from ECG parameters is a trivial application of statistics. AliveCor has already had patents invalidated in the case if I read the various MR stories about this correctly (I am no lawyer).

In other news, a company files a patent on how to boil water. :rolleyes:
MP3 players were already out, mobile phones were already out, Apple comes up with a patent that marries the two together and boom we have the iphone. Just because ECG has been out there does not mean it's been in the form that AliveCor uses it in. If AliveCor patents are thrown out because of the issue of ECG already being out there then on that note Apple's iphone patent should be thrown out because MP3 and mobile phones were already out there.
 

JapanApple

macrumors 65816
Sep 16, 2022
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Japan
infringes patents from medical device
Frankly speaking, the medical aspects of the apple watch are too simple compared to full-sized machines. calling an apple watch a medical device is far from reality. I own an apple watch and am very happy. But I would never base my medical safety on its biometrics.
BTW ECG machine has 12 leads apple has a simple 2. Hence the readings are not as finite as a doctor's office/hospital professional machine.
 
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gwerhart0800

macrumors 6502
Mar 15, 2008
456
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Loveland, CO
I have some experience in this area. The patent office does not pick sides. The review process for an application does not guarantee that there isn't prior art. The patent examiner has a set of tools that they can use to find associated prior art, but that process is not flawless. The "quality" of the examiner varies quite a bit. In the end, there are plenty of patent claims that can be challenged if you have deep enough pockets and good researchers.
 

Kiwamu

macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2022
137
407
These are the posts I happily just read and not comment on, because of lacking expertise. I do hope that in case Apple has to license those pattents for their current and future watch line up (and I suspect that it will be to late to fundementally change the upcoming Series 9) the cost for the watch won't increase. Maybe with Series 10 they find a workaround, if that is not already in the works to avoid a bigger loss with future releases.
 
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