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Apple, Ericsson not letting up on LTE IP squabble

Posted: 17 Feb 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple  Ericsson  LTE  patent  IEEE 

Apple got its suit in first, in a North California Federal Court, claiming the Swedish group is claiming way too much in royalties, based on a percentage of the price of the smartphone or tablet rather than the actual value of the processor. And, just to stress the point, Apple claims that, in any case, "Ericsson's patents are not essential to LTE standards."

It said it had been forced to ask a court to decide whether the terms are fair, a long-standing deal between the two having lapsed and after two years of fruitless negotiations over what constitutes FRANDly terms.

A day later, Ericsson went to the U.S. District Court in Texas, a favoured location for such disputes and, purely coincidentally, the State where it happens to have its headquarters, asking that court to rule on pretty much the same issue.

Both, of course, suggest they would like to reach a mutually beneficial resolution. As Kasim Alfalahi, chief IP officer at Ericsson would have it, Apple has been a valued partner for years "and we hope to continue that partnership." But he then pulls no punches by stressing the price of the chip set has nothing to do with the value the technology brings to the end user.

Ericsson has patent licensing deals with most of the world's makers of smartphones, and since it has ceased making devices of its own, relies hugely on the royalty streams it can squeeze out of all the existing manufacturers. "We believe it is reasonable to get fair compensation from companies benefitting from the developments we have made over the course of the last 30 years," noted Alfalahi.

There is that 'fair' word again.

But was it fair of Ericsson, in the background segment of its lawsuit, to belittle Apple's current leading position in smartphones by implying that the company does not contribute enough to the creation of the sector and merely takes advantage of the essential patents created by others.

Here is just one snippet. "In the telecommunications industry, global standards are fundamental to ubiquitous connectivity and enable any company, even a company like Apple with no history in the wireless industry, to enter the market and sell smartphones?"

- John Walko
  EE Times

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