A Democratic mega-donor who Joe Biden called “one of my closest friends” stands every chance of winning thanks to a ban on the latest version of Apple Watches – which has already been confirmed by the president.
The Biden-backed ban was temporarily suspended by a federal appeals court on Wednesday as Apple fights to overturn it – and end a long-standing claim by medical technology company Masimo that the health giant Silicon Valley stole its intellectual property.
Joe Kiani, the multimillionaire founder and CEO of Masimo, has donated millions of dollars to Democrats and is a particularly close supporter of Biden, with donations including $1 million to his Biden Foundation.
But its legal war with Apple led the US International Trade Commission to rule that its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models violated Masimo’s patent for blood oxygen level reading technology and that their importation should be prohibited.
The White House had until Christmas Day to overturn the ban by asking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to block it, but decided not to and the ban was implemented.
The case was then put on hold Wednesday by a federal appeals court when Apple formally appealed the decision and successfully requested an emergency order suspending the ban.
The amount at stake for Apple or Masimo is unknown.
But Kiani has cultivated an exceptionally close bond with Biden, who in 2019 spoke at an event where Kiani was in the audience and called him “one of my closest friends,” the l ‘Associated Press.
Kiani, 59, is an Iranian-American businessman who is among Biden’s biggest donors.
In addition to a $1 million donation to the Biden Foundation, Kiani donated $750,000 to the pro-Biden Unite the Country PAC in 2020, part of the nearly $3 million he devoted to the presidential campaign, the super PAC and the inaugural committee. He is also a major donor to the Democratic Party.
A Masimo spokesperson said the CEO and his “team” never pressured Biden or Tai over the Apple Watch dispute and accused Apple CEO Tim Cook of his own efforts to lobbying.
“This dispute was never about money for Masimo,” the spokesperson said. “The company’s motivation has always been and remains to hold Apple accountable for infringing Masimo’s patents and to restore market integrity.”
The White House declined to comment. Tai’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The Post has contacted Apple for comment.
Kiani and his wife Sarah were invited to a state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2022, then to a reception at the White House for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, in March 2023.
“Thank you @POTUS and @FLOTUS for celebrating #Nowruz at the White House” Kiani posted on X. “You have truly been the president of all Americans.”
A month later, in April, Kiani and his wife Sarah welcomed their first son Hunter Biden and his wife Melissa Cohen to their sprawling 8,000-acre Kiani Preserve, three hours north of Los Angeles.
The $50 million Santa Ynez property includes a main house and a guest house, both with a swimming pool, tennis courts and a vineyard.
Kiani has cultivated ties to the Biden family in other ways. He offered an $85,000-a-year job to Biden’s struggling niece, Caroline Biden, in July 2018, according to emails and text messages found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The job would have allowed her to move to Los Angeles – where she wanted to be close to her cousin Hunter, to serve two years of probation for a stolen credit card – but she scoffed that the offer was indeed “inferior minimum wage.
The Bidens in turn helped the Kianis.
Kiani was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2021. The committee is the sole body “charged with making policy recommendations on science, technology, and innovation to the President and the White House” , giving Kiani a powerful platform.
And Kiani’s daughter Catherine got her first job out of college working in Jill Biden’s office in the East Wing of the White House.
Catherine, now a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Carey Law School, was delighted to have met alumni from her famous liberal arts school, Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, Calif., during the state dinner at the White House for Macron, where his parents were guests.
And the first lady spoke on a panel hosted by Kiani at the high-profile technology conference and film festival, SXSW, in Austin, Texas, in 2021, to promote the “civic engagement platform” which he launched in 2020.
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