Swedish telecom biggie Ericsson is suing Apple at a federal court in Texas, seeking to clear its proposed 5G patent licensing rates. In its suit, the company is demanding a declaration that the rates offered by it to Apple were “fair and reasonable.”
Unfair Means and FRAND Terms
The plaintiff has alleged that the US-based tech giant is making use of improper methods to bring down the royalty rates that it needs to pay. The Tim Cook-led firm has also been accused of refusing to license the patents if the offer doesn’t meet its terms. The two companies had previously gone against each other in court back in 2015, regarding another licensing dispute.
Mentioned in the suit are 5G technologies that have been developed at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, which Ericsson says, were enabled by its patents. As such, it wishes for them to be licensed to smartphone makers including Apple.
An international agreement mandates that owners of tech parents where complying to wireless standards like 5G is necessary, are required to make their licenses available on terms that fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND). In its complaint, Ericsson alleges that Apple has been claiming that its rates don’t comply with FRAND terms, and demanding that the firm adhere to “Apple’s self-declared methodology” so as to become FRAND.
An Important Advantage?
The telecom provider asserts that Apple demands that owners of standard-essential patents should grant it “permission to examine, value, and license” each of the patents in their portfolio, and that too, at Apple’s discretion. And that’s not all, as the company apparently also requires owners to “prove” to it that every patent is valid, infringed, and essential.
Interestingly, Ericsson can file its suit with the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, owing to the fact that its US headquarters are located at Plano, Texas. This might actually end up helping its case, seeing as how patent lawyers have frequently preferred the Eastern District in the past, especially until 2017, when the US Supreme Court ruled that patent suits could be filed only in districts where companies do business.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has found itself in the midst of a patent litigation. Having settled a $1 billion patent case against Qualcomm, the tech giant is currently negotiating 5G patent negotiation rates with Huawei. The Chinese tech firm is also negotiating with Samsung.