Ericsson sues Apple to block iPhone and iPad sales in the US

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Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson has filed various lawsuits against Apple and a complaint with the US international trade commission (ITC) over a patents row, and seeks to block the sale of the iPhone in the US.

Ericsson seeks iPhone ban

A total of 7 lawsuits were filed in Texas, and claim that Apple infringes 41 of Ericsson’s patents which cover technologies essential to 3G, 3G, and 4G mobile standards.

“Apple’s products benefit from the technology invented and patented by Ericsson’s engineers. We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution,” said Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson. “Apple currently uses our technology without a licence and therefore we are seeking help from the court and the ITC.”

The argument has flared up because Apple’s existing license agreement with Ericsson expired last month, and renewal talks stalled, which led to lawsuits from both companies.

The complaints with the ITC lodged by Ericsson have escalated the ongoing dispute, and because the ITC has the power to block products coming from outside the US, that could have dire consequences for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, which are made in China by companies such as Foxconn. That would mean Apple would be unable to import and sell them in its home country.

Perhaps Apple should just spend some of its $180 billion it has spare in the bank and buy Ericsson (which is worth $42.89 billion currently)? Problem solved…

Apple Ericsson Lawsuit - Ericsson Offices

Apple has also filed a lawsuit on 12th January saying that Ericsson’s 4G patents were essential to industry standards, and that the Swedish company is making excessive demands, with “abusive licensing practices”. In the US there’s an agreement known as FRAND that applies to standards-essential patents, standing for  fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. Basically, if you invent something which is absolutely critical for an entire industry, you should license the patents fairly.

After Apple’s lawsuit, Ericsson also filed their own.

“Ericsson made several attempts to find a fair solution, including an offer for both parties to be bound by a decision on fair licensing terms by a US federal court. Apple has refused all attempts,” said Ericsson in a recent statement.

It’s thought that if Ericsson won the case, it could cost Apple between $250m and $750m each year. Ericsson’s 35,000-plus intellectual property portfolio was said to be worth $1.18bn in 2014. The company has over 100 patent licensing agreements with mobile technology companies, and is also largest manufacturer of network equipment.

“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,” said an Apple spokeswoman at the time of its lawsuit in January.

SOURCE: The Guardian

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