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Ericsson escalates legal action against Apple after arbitration rejected

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Swedish networking giant Ericsson has filed lawsuits against Apple in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands in an escalation of the two companies’ long-running patent dispute.

This is the latest phase in a dispute that erupted at the start of the year, with Apple alleging Ericsson was overcharging for some LTE patents and also that they’re not essential to the standard anyway. Ericsson then counter-sued, asking a Texas court to adjudicate on the matter.

Since then Ericsson says it has also suggested to Apple that they take the matter to arbitration, but to no avail. So Ericsson is looking to raise the heat with this European move, which mainly covers the patents in question at the start of the year, but also some new ones, such as technology that allows the streaming of video when on the move.

Ericsson has technologies that are essential to deployment of both infrastructure and smartphones, for 2G, 3G and 4G standards,” Gustav Brismark, Ericsson VP of Patent, Strategy and Portfolio, told Telecoms.com. “We have more than 100 licensees of this technology and our ambition is to ensure that we have a fair approach to the whole industry, which includes Apple.

“The latest development is that we offered Apple arbitration as a solution to our global dispute, to determine what is FRAND. This offer has now expired and so we have taken the step of filing these three lawsuits in Europe. We hope that these lawsuits can help us to resolve this conflict.”

FRAND stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory, and covers things like standards-essential patents to ensure that while patent holders deserve royalties, they can’t excessively exploit their captive market.

Ericsson’s perspective is that it has been working on these technologies for decades and thinks it’s unfair that Apple is trying to avoid paying to use them. Apple on the other hand thinks Ericsson is asking too high a price for them. The reason for the escalation is that, according to Ericsson, Apple is doing little to help find a resolution and just seems to be stalling. Apple has yet to make any public comment on this latest development.


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