Apple, Ericsson End Patent Row, Sign Agreement

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Settlement agreement for 5G patents reached between Ericsson and Apple, ending legal hostilities between the two parties

Legal hostilities between Apple and Ericsson have once again ended, after a dispute over renewing 5G patents.

Ericsson announced on Friday that the two parties had signed an “agreement includes global cross-license for patented cellular standard-essential technologies and grants certain other patent rights.”

The settlement ends all ongoing patent-related legal disputes between the parties, and Ericsson on Friday forecast fourth-quarter intellectual property rights (IPR) licensing revenues of between $530m-$578m, which includes the effects of the settlement, and including ongoing IPR business with all other licensees.


5G settlement

Ericsson said that it and Apple have reached a multi-year, global patent license agreement, which includes a cross-license relating to patented cellular standard-essential technologies and grants certain other patent rights.

Furthermore, Ericsson and Apple have mutually agreed to strengthen their technology and business collaboration, including in technology, interoperability and standards development.

This settlement ends the lawsuits filed by both companies in a number of countries, including in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas, as well as the complaints filed before the United States International Trade Commission (USITC).

“We are pleased to settle the litigations with Apple with this agreement, which is of strategic importance to our 5G licensing program,” said Christina Petersson, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson.

“This will allow both companies to continue to focus on bringing the best technology to the global market,” said Petersson.

Legal challenges

Ericsson had sued first in October 2021 after mediation talks in the Eastern District of Texas broke down.

That legal action centred over the renewal of a seven-year licensing contract for telecoms patents that had been first struck in 2015.

In the October 2021 lawsuit Ericsson had accused Apple of using improper tactics to lower the royalty rates it has to pay and refusing to license the patents under anything but its own terms.

In June this year Ericsson sued Apple in the United Kingdom, which meant Ericsson had lawsuits against Apple over 5G patent licensing in at least six countries, the others being the US, Brazil, Columbia, Germany and the Netherlands.

Apple responded with its own lawsuit in December 2021 accusing Ericsson of using “strong-arm tactics” to renew its licence agreement.

2015 lawsuits

Both Apple and Ericsson have clashed previously over wireless patents.

Ericsson began licensing its networking patents to Apple in 2008 with the introduction of the Apple iPhone, but it engaged in a legal battle in California in 2015 over negotiations for a new licence.

In the 2015 case Apple had argued Ericsson’s patents weren’t essential, that it did not infringe them, and that Ericsson was demanding excessive royalties.

However in December 2015 the two sides reached an out-of-court settlement.