We first posted a report in January titled "No Agreement between Apple and Ericsson Leads to Lawsuits." We followed up on that report with another two days later titled "Details of Ericsson's Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Apple Surface." We reported that U.S. based Ericsson Inc. and Sweden's Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (together, "Ericsson") had sued Apple over their refusal to license their patent portfolio of Essential Patents via ETSI standards. Ericson stated in their formal complaint before the court that "Apple and Ericsson previously entered into a license agreement that is now expired, yet Apple continues to sell products that comply with the cellular standards without a license from Ericsson." Apple argued that Ericsson was seeking excessive royalty rates and wants the federal court in California to rule that Ericsson's patents aren't essential to long term evolution, or LTE, standards. Apple got some help with their argument from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), who voted to change the rules regarding licensing fees. A particularly controversial change in its bylaws states that reasonable rates should reflect the "smallest salable implementation" of a patented invention. Ericsson could have renegotiated with Apple based on the new IEEE decision but has now decided to wage war against Apple instead.
In Ericsson's press release dated yesterday, they state that they filed two complaints with the International Trade Commission (ITC) and seven complaints in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Apple asserting 41 patents covering many aspects of Apple's iPhones and iPads. The patents include standard essential patents related to the 2G and 4G/LTE standards as well as other patents that are critical to features and functionality of Apple devices such as the design of semiconductor components, user interface software, location services and applications, as well as the iOS operating system. Ericsson seeks exclusion orders in the ITC proceedings and damages and injunctions in the District Court actions.
Kasim Alfalahi, Chief Intellectual Property Officer at Ericsson, said: "Apple's products benefit from the technology invented and patented by Ericsson's engineers. 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. We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution. Apple currently uses our technology without a license and therefore we are seeking help from the court and the ITC."
Ericsson wanted to remind the press that they have one of the industry's strongest intellectual property portfolios, which includes more than 35,000 granted patents worldwide. To date, Ericsson has signed more than 100 patent-licensing agreements with most of the major players in the industry.
The IEEE's latest ruling is likely to complicate matters for Ericsson who has decided to challenge that ruling directly by launching this latest lawsuit against Apple. Clearly they have no interest in negotiating a fairer licensing fee with Apple or anyone else; they want to continue to gouge smartphone vendors as they have in the past and they're going to start with Apple so that their other "100 patent-licensing agreements" around the world don't fall out of line when it's time for license renewals.
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