Ericsson Drags Apple to Court for Patent Infringement after Licensing Talks Collapse

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 18 Jan 2022

Apple Ericsson patent

Telecom giant Ericsson has filed two separate lawsuits alleging that Apple is using its patented 2G, 3G, and 4G technology without permission. The companies had a mutual deal to use the cellular standards but the related licenses expired recently.

In the cases filed on January 17, Ericsson alleges that Apple isn’t legally allowed to continue using its patents for wireless connectivity in iPhone 13 and other devices. The company seeks a jury trial and wants compensation for the damages caused by the patent infringement. Patents for communication standards are essential for the iPhones’ functioning so Ericsson doesn’t want to stop Apple from using 2G, 3G, and 4G, but is seeking compensation instead.

“Apple is the largest smartphone manufacturer in the United States and requires a license to Ericsson’s Essential Patents. Apple first licensed Ericsson’s 2G and 3G Essential Patents in 2008 when it released the first iPhone. In 2015, Apple and Ericsson executed another global cross-license, covering both parties’ patents related to the 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular standards. Based on the expiration of those licenses, Apple is no longer licensed to Ericsson’s Essential Patents.”

To recall, Ericsson struck a deal with the Cupertino giant in 2015, allowing it to use patented 2G, 3G, and 4G communication technology. At the time, Ericsson sued Apple alleging patent infringement on 41 patents related to GSM, UMTS, and LTE. Apple countersued alleging that Ericsson’s royalty fee was too high. Once the deal was signed, Ericsson dropped all its lawsuits.

The deal struck in 2015 expired recently. In December 2021, the iPhone maker sued Ericsson for using “strong-arm tactics” in negotiation for the renewal of the agreement, which could include the 5G standard. However, talks appeared to have collapsed. In a statement to IAM, Ericsson confirmed that it sued Apple.

“We can confirm that Ericsson has filed a number of lawsuits against Apple for patent infringement in multiple jurisdictions. Since the prior agreement has expired, and we have been unable to reach (an) agreement on the terms and scope of a new license, Apple is now using our technology without a license.”

“Ericsson’s annual investments in R&D of $5 billion have led to our leading global position in 5G, and a leading 5G patent portfolio. The possibility for fair compensation through patent licensing is important to ensure new investments in innovation that benefit our customers and consumers everywhere.”

Ericsson appears to have its way with the renewal of essential patent usage agreements after it sues for infringement. Both companies resorted to legal action in 2015 but eventually agreed to renew the agreement. Do you believe history will repeat itself? Tell us in the comments section below!

[Via IAM]