Access practice tools, as well as industry leading news, customizable alerts, dockets, and primary content, including a comprehensive collection of case law, dockets, and regulations. Leverage...
By Susan Decker and Tim Higgins
Feb. 27 — The licensing battle between Apple Inc. and Ericsson AB is escalating.
Ericsson, a pioneer in mobile phones that transformed itself into the world's largest maker of wireless networks, said Friday it's filing seven new lawsuits in a U.S. court and is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to block Apple products from the U.S. market.
Together, the complaints accuse Apple of infringing as many as 41 patents for some of the fundamental ways mobile devices communicate and for related technology such as user interfaces, battery saving and the operating system.
“We have offered them a license; they have a turned it down,” said Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson's chief intellectual property officer. “We're not a company that's planning to extract more than the value we put on the table.”
Apple had been paying royalties to Stockholm-based Ericsson before a license expired in mid-January. When talks over renewal failed, the companies sued each other, seeking court rulings on whether Ericsson's royalty demands on fundamental technology were fair and reasonable.
“We've always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products,” Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said in a statement. “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.”
In its complaint against Ericsson in January, Apple said the price of today's electronics are driven by things like their design, operating system and touch capabilities that are unique to each product. Apple said Ericsson “seeks to exploit its patents to take the value of these cutting-edge Apple innovations” and accused the company of “abusive licensing practices.”
The new complaints being filed by Ericsson at the International Trade Commission in Washington take the dispute to another level and are designed to put pressure on Apple. The trade commission, whose job is to protect U.S. markets from unfair trade practices, moves more swiftly than district courts and has the power to block products from crossing the border.
Apple's iPhone, iPad and other devices are made in Asia.
Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has contended that companies whose patents cover fundamental technology are demanding too much money and has lobbied the courts, regulators and even a board that develops standards for Wi-Fi to have its position adopted widely.
The issue has split the technology industry between those who have created some of the basic ways phones operate and those that use the technology in complex devices.
Alfalahi declined to say how much Apple had been paying for the expired license. Only one of the seven lawsuits filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas, relate to standard-essential patents. Two of the Texas cases, including that one, are mirrors of the ITC actions and are likely to be put on hold while the trade agency investigates.
Ericsson offered to have an arbitrator determine the proper rates, while Apple refused to promise that it would abide by any decision, according to Alfalahi.
With assistance from Adam Ewing in Stockholm.
©2015 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)