Apple Sues Ericsson Over ‘Standards Essential’ LTE Patents

Apple and Ericsson are suing each other in different US courts over a licensing dispute focussing on the former’s use of the latter’s LTE patents.

Ericsson’s wireless technology is used in the iPhone and iPad, but Apple is alleging that the Swedish networking firm is demanding excessive royalties and that the patents in question are not essential to the LTE standard.

The Cupertino-based company says Ericsson is determining royalties as a percentage of the final value of a smartphone or tablet and claims that such payments should be calculated according to the value of the processor that actually uses the technology.

Apple v Ericsson

If Ericsson’s patents are found to be standard essential, then Apple wants a court to assign what it deems to be reasonable royalties.

“We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products,” an Apple spokesperson told Reuters. “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.”

Ericsson has countered this legal action by filing its own complaint in Texas. It says the current licensing agreement with Apple has now expired and that two years of negotiations have failed to result in a renewal.

It wants the court to decide whether it is offering fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, as required by holders of standards essential patents.

“Our goal is to reach a mutually beneficial resolution with Apple. They have been a valued partner for years and we hope to continue that partnership,” an Ericsson spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “We have been negotiating with Apple during the past two years to reach a global licensing agreement on Ericsson’s technology that makes smartphones work. Litigation is always a last resort for us, but we believe it is reasonable to get fair compensation from companies benefitting from our technology development.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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