Ericsson Sues Apple Over Patents, Looks To Block Sales Of iPad And iPhone

This is not the first time Apple has tangled with another company over patents.

Metro reported today about Apple’s response to Smartflash, LLC, a company which recently won several million dollars from the makers of the revolutionary iPad for patents that are in use on any device which uses iTunes. Specifically, Metro said, the patents relate to downloading and storing songs, videos, and games. Apple’s response regarding the case was strongly worded.

“We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.

“We rely on the patent system to protect real innovation and this case is one more example of why we feel so strongly Congress should enact meaningful patent reform.”

Before the dust has even settled from the Smartflash loss, Tech Crunch reported that Ericsson, a leading wireless technology company, was suing Apple as well.

“…the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, claiming violation of 41 patents that apply to both the iPhone and iPad. These include essential patents related to 2G and LTE tech, as well as non-standard patents dealing with software and component hardware design.”

Specifically with the filing through the ITC, Ericsson is seeking to keep Apple from being able to sell either iPads or iPhones until the patent dispute is resolved.

Ericsson holds over 35,000 patents which are licensed under something called FRAND terms. Briefly, this means that the patents must be offered to other companies under terms that are fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory. Until about a month ago, Apple had a licensing agreement with Ericsson. According to Tech Crunch, it is believed that the companies were unable to come to terms on a new licensing contract. Apple offered a statement regarding the court action.

“With tens of thousands of innovative employees, Apple has deep respect for intellectual property. We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products. Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.”

CNET reported on a statement from the chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, Kasim Alfalahi.

“Apple’s products benefit from the technology invented and patented by Ericsson’s engineers. Features that consumers now take for granted—like being able to livestream television shows or access their favorite apps from their phone—rely on the technology we have developed. We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution. Apple currently uses our technology without a license and therefore we are seeking help from the court and the ITC.”

With rumors swirling about when the next Apple iPad may be released, Apple enthusiasts will need to see if the junction is granted, and how long the courts take to resolve the dispute.

[Image from Wall Street Journal]