Ericsson sues Apple for patent infringement; seeks to ban iPhone sales in U.S.

“Ericsson AB said Friday it is suing Apple Inc. for infringing technology patents it says are critical to many aspects of the U.S. tech giant’s popular mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads,” Dominic Chopping and Juhana Rossi report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The Swedish telecom equipment supplier said Apple had declined a licensing deal and refused an offer to have a court determine fair licensing terms by which both companies would be bound. ‘Our last offer was to have this determination either in [a federal court in] Texas or in a court selected by Apple in California. They declined,’ said Gustav Brismark, head of patent strategy at Ericsson,” Chopping and Rossi report. “Ericsson and Apple had a licensing agreement which required Apple to pay royalties for its use of technology patented by Ericsson. The agreement, originally struck in 2008, expired in January.”

Chopping and Rossi report, “Due to what Mr. Brismark called Apple’s refusal to negotiate, Ericsson has now filed two complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission, and seven complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.”

MacDailyNews Take: Rocket docket.

“In January, Ericsson and Apple said they were suing each other in a dispute over royalties for patents linked to high-speed wireless technology,” Chopping and Rossi report. “A spokesman for Apple on Friday referred to the company’s statement in January. ‘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,’ Apple said in a statement on Jan. 14.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Pfft.

Related articles:
Ericsson files complaint against Apple over tech license payments – January 14, 2015
Apple sues Ericsson over LTE wireless telecom patents – January 14, 2015

14 Comments

  1. Looks like just yet another disagreement over what royalties can be charged on a FRAND.

    Perhaps the permanent solution to this problem is that the royalty rates must be locked in stone (and published) upon all submissions of IP for consideration as a FRAND, with a condition that said royalty rates may never be raised.

    And the point is that if the IP owner doesn’t like these provisions, then they don’t play and don’t get their IP designated under FRAND for any industry standard. Period.

    1. I agree 100%, and I’ve been saying the exact same thing for years.

      IP that gets included in a standard must be licensed at a publicly disclosed rate. That rate does not have to be a flat rate; it does not have to be a tiered rate; but it must be a single rate structure that is publicly available. That single rate structure applies to EVERY organization that utilizes that standard.

      Any other option (e.g., the way it is done now) is purely asinine.

      The reason why this seemingly common sense way of licensing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) under truly Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (FRAND) rules is not implemented today is because many of the IP holders are also senior members of the standards committees. They want their IP to be part of the standard.

      The people who put together standards want, as much as possible, to include the latest in “bells and whistles” and the methods to implement those “bells and whistles” are thought up by people representing major companies. Those companies have those individuals representing them on the standards committee sign agreements with their employers (those companies on the standard committees) saying that anything they think up the companies own. The companies then believe that they own rights to the implementations for the standards. AND those companies are going to make damn sure they get every penny they can from being on those standards committees. I’ve even seen senior management at some of those companies on those committees tell the individuals representing them on those committees that the individuals MUST push the committees to use their IP — even if it weakens the standard!

      So standards committees are considered profit centers for most large companies, and they’ll do everything in their power to maximize those profits — whether it makes sense for the standards or not.

      Short of laws being passed to change this incestuous relationship and how it makes SEPs and FRAND rules a joke, I seen nothing changing. And, I am very leery of any new laws that might address this.

  2. “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”

    — Apple says this, and Ericsson says Apple declined court deciding fair payments.

    So Apple probably means it wants actual trial like that is going to happen now, not the fee-deciding court as Ericsson wanted.

    1. Unfortunately, Ericsson has ” U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas” — the “Rocket Docket” court that is 99% in favor of the patent holder.

      If Apple previously had filed in California, then they might have been able to get the new case in Texas moved to California and merged the two. No one but the judge to whom it is assigned in Texas can tell what will happen with that Texas case now.

      1. True, the East Texas courts do have a horrible reputation … but for the very reason that they have such a bad reputation is why they routinely get appealed, which may very well play into Apple’s hand.

        First, Apple can point out that East TX is where opportunistic “Patent Trolls” file. Thus, the selection of this docket will work against Ericsson in the long run, as this bad reputation undermines Ericsson’s legitimacy.

        Second, we can pretty much assume that East TX decision will return the absolute highest (worst case) that is even close to plausible. As such, getting a dramatically lower rate after appeal is pretty much a lock for Apple, which means only one “shocking headline” to hit the stockmarket, etc.

        1. I’m not sure Erricson can file outside their (or Apple’s) area. Erricson US HQ seems to be in Plano, TX, arguably E. Texas.. Article also states that before suing the option was given to get price determination by either the court in TX (where Erricson is) or one selected by Apple. A choice that Apple appears to have willfully ignored resulting in the current ITC reporting and court case.

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