Apple used unfair tactics in 5G patent litigation, Ericsson says in lawsuit


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Ericsson has played an important role in the development of fundamental mobile technology.

Angel Garcia / Bloomberg

Ericsson has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the tech giant engaged in unfair tactics in licensing negotiations for essential patents for 5G technology.

The Swedish telecommunications infrastructure leader said Apple has publicly accused the company of violating mandatory licensing practices for essential technologies. Ericsson refuted that claim in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Texas. The company has asked a judge to rule that it followed the practices, which it says will settle the dispute between the two companies.

“Apple’s allegations of breach threaten Ericsson’s reputation and business,” the lawsuit said. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Ericsson holds tens of thousands of patents for fundamental technologies related to 4G and 5G telecommunications. Many of these patents are considered essential to international telecommunications standards.

As part of its collaboration with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, or ETSI, an industry standards body, to ensure interoperability of devices, Ericsson must license its patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. , or FRAND.

Ericsson is currently stuck in licensing negotiations with Apple as the two companies disagree on some issues, including how much Apple should pay for the licenses.

“Apple has always resisted licensing by Ericsson and other essential patent holders, as part of a global strategy to devalue standard essential patents and reduce Apple royalty payments,” said Ericsson in the court file.

The trial, reported earlier by Bloomberg– alleges that even before Apple and Ericsson first met for a licensing meeting, Apple had already publicly called the Swedish company’s licensing program discriminatory and that its tariffs violated the FRAND commitment of Ericsson.

A similar disagreement over licenses led to a lengthy dispute that was resolved in 2015 with a seven-year agreement.

Mikaela Idermark Stern, head of corporate communications at Ericsson, said in a statement to Barron that “for technology leaders like Ericsson, who invest early and heavily in R&D, the possibility of fair compensation through patent licensing is important to ensure new investments in innovation and the continued success of a company. open and collaborative standardization ”.

“The case is ongoing and Ericsson will refrain from making further comments at this point,” Stern said.

Class B shares of Ericsson (ticker: ERIC), which trade on the Nasdaq as US depository stocks, rose 1% in New York. Apple stock (AAPL) was up 0.5% in US trading.

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