Apple and Ericsson are once again squabbling over patent licenses. Like last time, the lawsuit was filed as soon as the license expired. Apparently, the two companies were negotiating a renewal, but couldn’t agree on the fee – Ericsson was asking $5/unit, Apple was claiming that it is too much.
That resulted in a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Texas court three months ago (Apple is countersuing). Now, Ericsson has filed additional suits in the Western District of Texas as well as other countries, including Germany.
There are two new suits, one relates to four patents, the other to eight. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents suggests that the former suit is paired with a complaint to the US International Trade Commission, asking it to ban imports of infringing devices (it’s not entirely clear what those are at the moment).
This time around, the battle is focused on 5G patents, whereas the fight back in 2015 was over LTE patents – that battle ended with a new licensing agreement that just expired at the end of 2021. However, since Apple acquired Intel’s modem division, it now also owns 5G patents, which it can use as leverage in the legal proceedings. Even so, Mueller believes that Ericsson has the stronger position, especially since it recently won a 5G-related lawsuit against Samsung.
Interestingly, the Apple-Ericsson fight might have an effect on the legal battle with Epic Games. Apple pointed to several patents that are part of selling apps through the App Store as justification for collecting a 30% cut from developers. However, Apple itself pays a lot less (closer to 1%) to license the patents it needs to make its phones and other gadgets. Epic is appealing the ruling from September, which favored Apple.