Since a patent agreement expired, the corporations have been caught up in a global patent battle. It’s about FRAND – fair licensing – and a billion sum.
In the major patent dispute with Apple, the Network equipment supplier Ericsson has achieved a stage victory: A court in Bogota has prohibited Apple from further selling and importing current iPhones and iPads in Colombia, as Apple itself has now disclosed in a submission to a US court.
All iPhones now 5G Ready
This affects devices with support for 5G mobile networks, including the iPhone 13, iPhone 12 and iPhone SE 3 model series as well as new iPads with 5G mobile network support. The court issued an injunction in April for an alleged infringement of an Ericsson patent on 5G technology. This prohibits Apple from selling, importing and advertising such models in Colombia – although 5G networks are not yet in operation locally. The manufacturer criticized this in the court documents published by Foss Patents (Ericsson vs. Apple, United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, file number 2:21-cv-00376).
A seven-year license agreement between Apple and Ericsson on cellular patents expired at the end of 2021 without renewal. Already last autumn, Ericsson wanted to have it established in advance that the network equipment supplier fulfilled all FRAND specifications when licensing its patents. Special rules apply to standard-essential patents: They must be licensed on fair and reasonable terms (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory – FRAND).
Apple responded by accusing Ericsson of clearly violating FRAND conventions. Since then, the companies have filed lawsuits and counterclaims in several countries. The dispute involves a lot of money: Ericsson estimates a license fee of up to 5 US dollars per 5G device for the use of the patents – an (annual) billion sum.
Apple insists on a decision in the USA
The decision was made without hearing Apple. And Ericsson has also managed to obtain an “anti-anti-suit injunction” – an injunction intended to prevent Apple from filing a countersuit in another state, as Apple has now complained to the court in the US state of Texas. According to Apple, the sales ban gives Ericssons “forced leverage” to demand non-FRAND-compliant license terms. The group has now asked the US court to oblige the network equipment supplier to pay compensation for all penalties resulting from the order and to ensure that the case is ultimately decided in the USA – and not in Bogota.