ITC to investigate Apple on allegations of Ericsson patent infringement

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Following formal complaints by Ericsson, the U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday showed intent to launch an investigation into Apple's potentially illegal use of patented LTE technology.

The ITC investigation will take a closer look at Apple's use of granted Ericsson wireless network patents, specifically those applying to LTE technology, as well as other IP deemed "critical" to certain Apple products.

As noted by PC World, the ITC decision is a reaction to a legal barrage Ericsson lobbed at Apple in February. The Swedish telecommunications giant lodged two ITC complaints and seven lawsuits with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, seeking both damages and injunctions against Apple product sales.

Apple sparked a legal battle in January by suing Ericsson over allegedly excessive royalty rates applied to previously licensed LTE technology. Shortly before Apple sued, the Cupertino company refused to re-sign a contract with Ericsson, saying the now expired licensing terms were excessive as patents-in-suit should not be considered standard essential.

"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's original complaint reads.

Ericsson said it offered Apple fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) pricing in hopes of striking a new deal, but exact terms were not revealed. Court filings show Ericsson sought a portion of overall device sales, while Apple argued a more equitable deal would charge on a per-component basis. Overall, Ericsson is asserting more than 41 separate patents against Apple relating to a variety of wireless standards and technologies.