Ericsson is filing seven lawsuits in a Texas court against Apple for infringing 41 patents. The wireless networking company also wants the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to block sales of Apple products in the country.
While some of the patents in question relate to 2G, 3G and 4G LTE standards, others are essential for features specific to iOS and Apple devices. In addition to the lawsuits, it filed two complaints with the ITC seeking an exclusion against Apple’s products for infringing patents.
A battle has been raging between the two companies this year. Apple had been paying royalties to Ericsson until its licensing agreement expired in January. Talks over renewal failed and the companies sued each other, as Apple argued that Ericsson was being unfair in its royalty demands for fundamental technology.
Ericsson filed a suit in Texas last month to receive an independent assessment on whether its global licensing offer to Apple complies with the company’s commitment to offer fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms. Apple has refused to take up a new license.
Apple claims that the price of electronics are driven by factors like their design and functionality that are unique to each product, and accused Ericsson of “abusive licensing practices.”
Ericsson’s chief intellectual property office Kasim Alfalahi counters, “Features that consumers now take for granted – like being able to livestream television shows or access their favorite apps from their phone – rely on the technology we have developed.”
Ericsson says it made multiple attempts to resolve the issue fairly, including offering to be bound by a decision on fair licensing terms by a federal court — but Apple refused to play ball and left the company with no choice but to go to court and the ITC.
Update: An Apple spokesperson said, “With tens of thousands of innovative employees, Apple has deep respect for intellectual property. We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products. Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.”
Both companies confirmed the above facts and statements. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on this case.
Image credit: Jason Ralston