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Ericsson launches countersuit against Apple

15 January 2015

Ericsson has launched a counter-suit against Apple, after the iPhone-maker filed a lawsuit against the Swedish telecoms equipment manufacturer in a dispute over royalty payments for patents, reported.

Ericsson yesterday filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas regarding whether Apple's global licensing offer for use of Ericsson technology was "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory".

Ericsson said in a statement that Apple's license to use its high-speed wireless technology had expired, and that no new agreement had been signed even after two years of negotiations.

"Our goal is to reach a mutually beneficial resolution with Apple. They have been a valued partner for years and we hope to continue that partnership," Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in a press release.

The technology had been used in Apple's phones and tablets and was used as "Long Term Evolution" or LTE technology and for 4G mobile internet.

Ericsson's lawsuit comes after Apple on Monday, filed a complaint claiming Ericsson had been demanding excessive royalties for its LTE patents. Apple added that the patents were not essential for meeting cellular industry standards for this high-speed mobile internet.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that even as Apple's iPhone and iPad had won over users in recent years, Ericsson helped pioneer the mobile-device market with its handsets in the 1990s and in February 2012, sold its mobile-phone business to Sony Corp, five years after Apple introduced the iPhone, which was now its largest revenue source (See: Sony to buy out Ericsson's stake in Sony Ericsson JV for $1.47 billion).

''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,'' Cupertino, California-based Apple said in its complaint.

According to Ericsson two years of negotiations to renew a licensing agreement failed because of fundamental disagreements over the manner in which patents on standard-essential technology should be valued.

According to commentators it formed part of a broader fight roiling the technology industry, between the older companies that created some of the basics of wireless and those who make the devices using it.

Ericsson's vice president of patent strategy, said in an interview that Ericsson could not get any further in the negotiation. He added, Apple's first-filed suit ''was a clear sign that we don't see that there will be any solution without the support of a third party.''

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