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With Apple's licensing agreement with Ericsson expiring in 12 days, Apple Sues Ericsson Over ‘Strong-Arm’ Patent-Licensing Demands

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In October, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson Inc has filed a suit against Apple Inc in a federal court in Texas. Ericsson is seeking a declaration that the rates it offered Apple to license its 5G wireless patents are both fair and reasonable.


Ericsson claims Apple is using improper methods to lower the royalty rates it has to pay. Apple is also accused of refusing to license the patents under anything besides its proposed terms.


According to Ericsson, the lawsuit comes as the two tech giants are deadlocked in negotiations over a new license.


Lawyer Monthly reported that "Ericsson claimed that it began negotiating a new license with Apple towards the end of 2020. It said that Apple has maintained its position that Ericsson’s rates aren’t FRAND and that the only way for them to become FRAND is by adhering to "Apple’s self-declared methodology."


Ericsson claims that Apple demanded that standard-essential patents owners grant it permission to examine, value, and license each patent in its portfolio at Apple’s discretion. Ericsson also claimed that Apple had asked them to prove that every patent is essential, valid, and infringed."


Flash-forward to Friday and we're learning that "Apple Inc. filed a lawsuit accusing Ericsson AB of using 'strong-arm tactics' in negotiations to renew a 2015 license for technology critical to industrywide telecommunications standards, particularly for 5G mobile networks.


The lawsuit alleges Ericsson is violating its obligations to license patents essential to industry standards on fair rates and is making unreasonable demands.


The 2015 agreement, which covered 2G, 3G and 4G technology that expires this month, was signed only after protracted litigation." You could read more about this case at Bloomberg Law (behind a paywall).


This case contains sensitive confidential material that Apple wanted to seal. Patently Apple obtained a copy of Apple's motion and the court granting their motion as presented below.


(Click on image to Enlarge)

2 Apple court docs


Florian Mueller, an award-winning intellectual property activist who blogs under 'Foss Patents,' believes that short of an 11th-hour agreement, Ericsson and Apple are patent ligation-bound.


Mueller added that "It's obviously not inconceivable that Apple and Ericsson may be close to an agreement on renewal terms including Ericsson's 5G patents. It was high time that Apple somehow responded to the complaint, so they might have made the filing now even if the operating assumption was that the issues in that Texas case would never come to judgment.


However, in light of the Holiday Season and the impending expiration of the current license agreement, the likelihood of infringement litigation flaring up again between these two parties has increased.


The clock is ticking. 13 days left [now 12] and then we'll probably--though not necessarily--see a slew of infringement filings. Also, it won't take long now until Apple's license agreement with Nokia expires."


Apple is certainly preparing for a battle with Ericsson as they've reportedly hired two "rock-star" attorneys Ruffin Cordell and Joseph Mueller, according to Foss Patents.


For more, read the full report by Foss Patents.


10.4F - Patently Legal


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