Ericsson has announced that it's filing seven new lawsuits in a US court against Apple for infringing its patents — and it's asking the US International Trade Commission to block iPhones from sale too.
All told, Ericsson claims that Apple infringes a total of 41 of its patents. They describe some of the fundamental ways mobile devices communicate, as well as operating system design, battery saving methods and user interfaces too.
An ongoing royalty payment has been made to Ericsson by Apple in the past to cover the use of these patents. But when a licence expired in mid-January, discussion over a renewal failed. Ericsson already tried to reach terms with Apple, but to no avail. "We have offered them a licence; they have a turned it down," said Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson's chief intellectual property officer, told Bloomberg. "We're not a company that's planning to extract more than the value we put on the table."
Now, Ericsson is attempting to secure what it's owed. Ericsson has offered to have an independent arbitrator determine rates of compensation, but Apple has hit out saying that the Stockholm-based company "seeks to exploit its patents to take the value of these cutting-edge Apple innovations." It's even accused the company of "abusive licensing practices".
Now, Ericsson's decision to attempt to block iPhone sales via the International Trade Commission ratchets the dispute up a level. The Commission has the power to act more swiftly than the courts, blocking the import of goods as they head into the States from China.
What decision the Commission will make remains to be seen. But you can be sure that Apple will be throwing an awful lot of legal weight — or money, depending on the judgement of authorities — at the problem. A halt in iPhone sales simply won't be tolerated. [Bloomberg]