Ericsson sues Apple in Germany, Britain and Netherlands over technology license payment issue

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Mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson has filed lawsuits against Apple in Germany, Britain and the Netherlands over technology license payments.

The Swedish tech giant in a statement said its offer that called for Apple to enter into arbitration to reach a mutually beneficial global licensing agreement for its standard-essential patents has now expired. This means that the Cupertino does not currently have any license for Ericsson’s technology, but continues to sell products, for which its licenses have expired, on a global scale.

Commenting on the development, Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said “Apple continues to profit from Ericsson’s technology without having a valid license in place. Our technology is used in many features and functionality of today’s communication devices. We are confident the courts in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands will be able to help us resolve this matter in a fair manner.”

Ericsson said that the proceedings in the three countries were recently initiated and related to 2G and 4G/LTE mobile communications standards as well as intellectual property related to user interfaces, batteries and operating systems.

The mobile equipment maker added that for more than two years it has been trying to reach an agreement with Apple on a global license for Ericsson’s patents on terms that are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND), but the companies have failed to reach an amicable resolution.

Ericsson had already filed a lawsuit in mid-January in the United States against Apple, responding to a lawsuit from the iPhone maker. In its complaint, the iPadmaker said Ericsson “seeks to exploit its patents to take the value of these cutting-edge Apple innovations” and accused the company of “abusive licensing practices.”

According to analysts, if the lawsuit goes in favor of Ericsson then Apple would have to pay between 2-6 billion Swedish crowns ($240-725 million) annually, based on estimates of levels of handset sales and royalty payments per phone.

Ericsson’s intellectual property portfolio includes more than 37,000 granted patents and equally as many pending application, worldwide. To date, the Swedish firm has inked more than 100 patent-licensing agreements with most major players in the industry.