Apple slaps Ericsson with lawsuit over mobile patent royalties

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Apple has filed a lawsuit against Ericsson, accusing the telecoms gear maker of charging excessive royalty fees for LTE wireless technology patents.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California on Monday, the Cupertino claimed that it has not infringed on any of the Swedish company’s patents, which it says are not essential to industry standards.

Apple alleges that Ericsson is seeking royalties for the LTE technology calculated as a percentage of the price of the device the technology is embedded in, rather than on the value of the processor chip that runs the technology.

In the event that Ericsson’s patents are deemed essential and Apple is found to have infringed on them by the court, the Cupertino said it wishes the court to decide on a reasonable royalty rate.

“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,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet.

In response, Ericson has filed a claim in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas to decide on whether it has made “a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” licensing offer to Apple for its “standard essential” LTE patents.

“Every Apple smartphone or tablet that has cellular connectivity needs our technology,” said Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson’s Chief Intellectual Property Officer.

“We have been trying to negotiate a new agreement. We came to the conclusion we needed the help of a third party,” Alfalahi said.

According to the court filing, Apple’s patent deal with Ericsson, which covers many of the patents that subject to dispute, was filed way back in 2008 soon after the iPhone was launched.