Introduction Global licensing of patents has become a major aggregator in pushing growth of technology…
Recently, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, commonly known as Ericsson (hereinafter “Ericsson”), a Swedish multinational networking and telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm filed a set of patent infringement lawsuits against Apple Inc. (hereinafter “Apple”), an U.S. based multinational technology company that specializes in consumer electronics, software and online services. This is not the first time the parties have approached the court-of-law over their 5G patents – initially, Ericsson had sued Apple in the US (Western US District of Texas) and at least one unknown European country around October 2021, and now in Netherlands, Brazil, Belgium and Germany.
The issue essentially is about royalty payments for using wireless patents in Apple’s iPhones. Initially the dispute covered 5G patents, but now also includes 4G patents of Ericsson. Both parties signed a seven year patent licensing agreement in 2015 covering 2G, 3G, and 4G technology, and the dispute now arose when the 2015 deal expired and parties could not conclude renew or renegotiate the licensing deal.
Ericsson is arguing the Apple is now its 5G patents without license. So far, Ericsson does not appear to have approached the courts seeking a ban on any devices against Apple or Apple products in the jurisdictions where it has filed patent infringement suit – it is simply looking for royalty rate determination for using its technology by Apple. According to the filing, Ericsson is also seeking a preliminary injunction against Allied Technologia since it distributes Apple products that utilises Ericsson’s patented technologies.
As its counter, Apple filed a lawsuit in December accusing the Swedish company of not using fair and reasonable terms to renew the patents and are suing them to extort excessive royalties. Apple is also arguing that Ericsson should be prevented from importing products to the US. Apple has filed several countersuits against Ericsson which claim it infringes upon patents owned by Apple, but which state the company (Apple) is willing to drop all lawsuits if Ericsson will do the same.
Apple is known for its electronic devices, particularly iPhones including the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, which are in question in these ongoing litigations for using Ericsson’s patented 5G technology. but like most smartphone makers it relies on patents from companies like Ericsson. Most of these Ericsson’s patented technology are categorised as Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), and as per globally recognised agreements and understandings, are to be licensed to parties under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Ericsson pioneered the open standards for today’s advanced telecommunications platforms and contributed to significant advancements in technology and connectivity including 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. These innovations, in turn, have enabled the creation of high-speed data that connect the world