U.S. ITC to Investigate Apple After Ericsson Patent Infringement Claims

ipad_iphone_ios_8The ongoing conflict between Apple and Ericsson escalated this afternoon as the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed to launch an investigation into claims that Apple infringed on as many as 41 of Ericsson's cellular technology patents with its iPad and iPhone devices, reports PCWorld.

Apple and Ericsson first clashed in January, after the expiration of a 2008 licensing agreement between the two companies. Despite two years of negotiations, the companies failed to establish a new agreement that would let Apple use Ericsson's cellular technology patents.

Apple filed a complaint suggesting Ericsson was both demanding excessive royalties for LTE patents and wrongly claiming its patents as essential for the LTE wireless communication standard. Ericsson responded with its own complaint, asking the court to determine whether its licensing fees were fair.

Ericsson's cellular technology patents are considered essential and are subject to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND). According to Ericsson, the licensing deal it offered Apple (estimated to be between $250 million and $750 million annually) was reasonable, but Apple disagreed.

In February, Ericsson went on to file seven new lawsuits against Apple and two complaints with U.S. ITC in an effort to prevent Apple from selling products in the U.S., which is what led to today's ITC investigation. Companies often file complaints in district court and with the ITC simultaneously as the ITC moves faster and has the ability to block products from being sold in the United States. The looming threat of a product ban can accelerate licensing negotiations.

Should the International Trade Commission's investigation find that Apple infringed on Ericsson's patents, it could potentially lead to an exclusion order preventing the infringing products from being sold in the United States until the dispute is resolved.

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Top Rated Comments

mjmatsen Avatar
119 months ago
Hardly a patent troll

Lets not forget, from an 'innovation' standpoint, Ericsson are the guys who invented bluetooth back in 1994. Apple seem to run on the mode that forgiveness is better than permission. You gotta pay the piper.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kingofwale Avatar
119 months ago
so... Apple knows full well that they need to license those but disagree on the amount, but instead of pay up or stop using it, Apple just decide to use the patent anyway without paying.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RockSpider Avatar
119 months ago
It's not fair to charge Apple a reasonable fee for fair use but it's okay for Apple to charge $10,000 for a watch that's worth between $1,000 to $3,000 at best.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
119 months ago
<danger sarcasm>

Has your business model completely fallen to pieces. Well now with trolling you too can solve all your cash flow problem by suing the pants off all your former competitors.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say you have absolutely no idea what's actually going on with this situation.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Exhale Avatar
119 months ago
Apple's not competing in access points.
And Ericsson sold of their Handset division ages ago. Ericsson is a communications technology company - which means heavy R&D into technology such as LTE and Bluetooth - which is why they have a ton of patents others are required to license.

Ericsson also sells the hardware AT&T, T-Mobile, or whatever carrier you use, purchases in order to provide you with LTE connectivity. You may have an iPhone on your end, but your carrier regularly has Ericsson equipment on their end. Thats the straight opposite of a patent troll.

In short, Ericsson's business model is not to sell you a phone. Its to sell the hardware that even makes it possible to watch HD cat videos on your iPhone.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
119 months ago
It seems they win those lawsuits. Even the iBooks "price fixing" loss is in the process of getting eviscerated.

Thus, the problem isn't Apple being unfair, it's everyone else trying to exact money the only way they have; by taking doomed potshots in the courts.

If what you're saying we're true, Apple would be losing all three lawsuits, wouldn't they? Or are the international courts also in on the Big Apple Conspiracy?

Fortunately, you can't conflate Apple's other lawsuits with this one. They have no connection. This is a case of Apple not wanting to pay what Ericsson is asking for patents that Apple is using and has paid for in the past.

Trying to tie all of their legal issues together and getting a "if what you're saying is true" gets nothing but a logical fallacy.

I'm pretty sure they will come to an agreement with Apple paying the licensing fees. The only question is how much.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)