© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An attendee holds two titanium Apple Watch Edition smart watches in the demonstration area during a launch event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S., September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
By Blake Brittain
(Reuters) -The Biden Administration has decided not to overrule a U.S. International Trade Commission decision that could block imports of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:)’s Apple Watches for infringing AliveCor Inc patents related to heart monitoring, AliveCor said Tuesday.
An AliveCor spokesperson said the office of the U.S. Trade Representative told the company it would not veto the decision. Any ITC ban is still on hold while Apple and AliveCor continue to clash over the patents.
The ITC ruled in December that imports of Apple’s smartwatches should be banned for infringing AliveCor’s patents, but it placed the ban on pause while related proceedings over the patents run their course. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found the patents invalid earlier that month, in a ruling that AliveCor has said it will appeal.
Apple said Tuesday it will appeal the ITC’s import ban decision, which it said would have a negative effect on public health.
Representatives for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The trade representative’s office and the ITC had no comment.
The White House had 60 days to decide whether to veto the ITC’s Dec. 22 ruling based on policy concerns.
Presidential vetoes of ITC import bans have historically been rare. However, the Obama administration reversed a ban on some iPhones and iPads in 2013 in a patent fight between Apple and Samsung Electronics (OTC:) Co Ltd, citing its effects on U.S. consumers and economic competition.
AliveCor accused Apple of infringing three patents related to its KardiaBand, an Apple Watch accessory that monitors a user’s heart rate, detects irregularities and performs an electrocardiogram to identify heart problems like atrial fibrillation.
Mountain View, California-based AliveCor told the ITC that Apple copied its technology and drove it out of the market by making Apple’s operating system incompatible with the KardiaBand.
Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 have ECG technology. Apple introduced its most recent Series 8 last year.
AliveCor has separately sued Apple in California federal court for allegedly monopolizing the U.S. market for Apple Watch heart-rate apps, and filed a related patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in Texas federal court.
Apple has countersued AliveCor in San Francisco federal court for allegedly infringing its patents.
The ITC case is Certain Wearable Electronic Devices With ECG Functionality and Components Thereof, U.S. International Trade Commission, No. 337-TA-1266.