The Apple Watch could be banned from the United States as soon as next week. That’s unless President Biden’s administration stops it from happening.
The ban is now hanging over Apple’s head after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in December that the Apple Watch infringes upon patents owned by AliveCor, a medical device company. The patents relate to electrocardiogram technology as used in Apple’s latest wearables.
If the ban goes ahead sales of wearables like the Apple Watch Series 8 will no longer be possible across the United States. But the Biden administration could stop the ban in its tracks.
The patent relates to one of the best iPhone features around, its ability to take ECGs to detect heart problems. But that might not be enough to stop it from being banned. What might be enough is Apple’s seemingly unlimited lobbying power.
“Apple has unlimited resources. They’re gonna go after everyone they can get and that’s what they’re doing,” said Priya Abani, CEO of AliveCor when speaking with The Hill (opens in new tab). “We are just a startup.”
Apple employed “Shara Aranoff, a lobbyist at Covington & Burling who chaired the ITC during the Obama administration,” in an attempt to ensure that its Apple Watch remains on sale.
Now President Biden must decide by Monday whether to let the ITC’s ruling stand and allow it to move on to court. He could also veto it entirely, which would let Apple off the hook.
AliveCor reportedly told The Hill that it had a good relationship with Apple. That was until the Apple Watch gained ECG functionality in 2018. AliveCor had to cancel its own product as a result.
“We come up with new technologies, and instead of the ecosystem letting us thrive and continue to build on top of the innovations we already have, Apple cuts us out up front, steals our technology, uses their platform power to scale it, and now is basically saying it’s scaled so it can’t be cut off,” Abani told The Hill.
All eyes will now be on The White House to see what comes next.