Mobile manufacturer Ericsson AB filed nine complaints against Apple Inc. on Thursday, and asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to block Apple products from the American market, according to media reports. The move escalates a dispute regarding Apple’s use of Ericsson’s technologies in its products.
“Apple currently uses our technology without a license and therefore we are seeking help from the court and the ITC,” Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson’s chief intellectual property officer, said, in a press statement. "Apple's products benefit from the technology invented and patented by Ericsson's engineers. We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution.”
Apple had been paying royalties to Ericsson to use patented technologies that are necessary for 2G and 4G/LTE telecom standards. After the contract lapsed, Ericsson and Apple filed lawsuits against each other, with Apple arguing that Ericsson’s royalty demands for its fundamental technology were unfairly high.
Ericsson also reportedly offered to bring in an arbitrator to determine appropriate rates, which Apple reportedly refused to abide by.
In January, Apple filed a case with a federal court in California, claiming that Ericsson’s patents were no longer essential to telecom standards. “Ericsson seeks to exploit its patents to take the value of these cutting-edge Apple innovations, which resulted from years of hard work by Apple engineers and designers and billions of dollars of Apple research and development -- and which have nothing to do with Ericsson’s patents,” Apple said in its complaint, Bloomberg reported.
In response, Ericsson also filed a complaint in a district court in Texas asking for a ruling on whether its licensing rates were fair, but Apple said it would not consider the court’s ruling to be binding. Thursday's complaint marks an escalation of the dispute. The ITC is a federal body with the ability to move more quickly and impose harsher penalties than district courts.
Ericsson holds over 35,000 patents worldwide, and has agreed to over 100 patent-sharing agreements, including with several major electronics manufacturers.