Ericsson has filed patent suits against Apple in Germany, UK and the Netherlands. The move follows what Ericsson claims is a period of more than two years of 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)
Apple 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. Ericsson had offered to enter into arbitration with Apple to reach a mutually beneficial global licensing agreement for its standard-essential patents, but that offer has now expired.
Ericsson said today (8 May 2015) that it believes a global system of fair and reasonable compensation through licensing is vital for providing the necessary industry incentive to continue to innovate and develop new technologies for the benefit of consumers.
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."
The proceedings in the three countries were recently initiated and refer to the 2G and 4G/LTE standards, as well as other technology that is not standardised, but is related to, for instance, the design of semiconductor components and non-cellular wireless communications.
For more than two years Ericsson 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's national lawsuits in Europe are other efforts to protect and support its investment in R&D.
Ericsson said it is committed to licensing its standard-essential patents on FRAND terms to provide a level playing field for all companies, lower the barriers of entry and increase competition and innovation. FRAND principles promote shared standards and open technology up to any licensed user, which enables high performance interoperability across networks by devices from multiple manufacturers.
Ericsson argues that its engineers contribute technology that enables billions of mobile users around the world today. Smartphones are the most sold consumer product globally and smartphone owners benefit from shared innovations in new standards like 4G/LTE.
These have enabled the creation of high-speed data networks that connect the world and enable people to, for instance, send pictures, video chat, follow their favourite television shows or consult with doctors in remote places, from any location.
Under the FRAND commitment, essential patent owners like Ericsson are compensated proportionally in relation to their contribution to the standardized technology.
Ericsson noted that it has one of the industry's strongest intellectual property portfolios, which includes more than 37,000 granted patents, and equally as many pending application, worldwide. To date, Ericsson has signed more than 100 patent-licensing agreements with most major players in the industry.