Apple and Ericsson go to court over LTE patents

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Thought Apple and Samsung’s truce meant the patent wars were dying down? Think again: now Apple and Ericsson have launched a new legal battle.

After a license agreement for [company]Apple[/company]’s use of [company]Ericsson[/company] cellular technology expired, and two years of negotiations failed, Apple sued Ericsson on Monday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The iPhone maker seems to be taking two approaches. On the one hand, according to reports, it’s claiming that Ericsson is wrong to say the relevant LTE patents (covering things like bandwidth efficiency and signal management) are “standards-essential” — something that would mean Apple is automatically infringing by including LTE/4G functionality in its devices. On the other, Apple is saying that if these are standards-essential patents (SEPs), Ericsson is demanding too much because SEPs are supposed to be licensed on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms.

Apple said in its complaint that Ericsson is trying to calculate royalties based on the total phone price, rather than the price of the LTE chip. An Apple spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal:

We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products. 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.

Sweden’s Ericsson said on Wednesday that it launched a complaint with the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, asking the court to determine whether the royalties Ericsson wants to levy in its “global license offer” comply with its FRAND commitments.

Here’s what Ericsson chief intellectual property office Kasim Alfalahi said in a statement:

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. Global sharing of technology has created the success of the mobile industry and allowed new entrants to quickly build successful businesses. We believe it is reasonable to get fair compensation from companies benefitting from the development we have made over the course of the last 30 years.

Here’s Ericsson’s filing:

Ericsson v Apple

This article was updated at 3.30am PT to include more detail about Apple’s complaint and again at 5.15am PT to include Ericsson’s filing.

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