Ericsson hopes for swift resolution to Apple patent dispute

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg hopes litigation between his company and Apple can be wrapped up quickly.

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg has argued that the company's US$5 billion annual investment in research and development entitles it to seek the royalties it has from tech giant Apple for the use of its standards-related patents.

After two years of discussions, negotiations broke down between the Cupertino-based and Swedish tech giants over licensing in January, and the two companies took each other to court seeking a settlement.

Ericsson claims that it is offering fair and reasonable terms for royalties to Apple for the use its standard-based patents, while Apple claims that the patents are not essential, and Ericsson is demanding too much for the licensing agreement.

Apple is asking one court in California to set a reasonable royalties rate, while Ericsson has asked another court in Texas to determine whether the global licensing offer is on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Speaking on the first day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, Ericsson's Vestberg said that it is a dispute that the company hopes can be resolved quickly.

"From our point of view, we think we have a very good foundation for our licensing program. Unfortunately we didn't make an agreement with Apple," he said.

"Our main objective is to solve that as soon as possible and not have a lengthy trial. So let's see how it works out."

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Vestberg said that the mobile industry, through the use of network standards such as 3G, 4G, and beyond, by its very nature relies on sharing, but that those who invest in researching technology advances should be able to earn back some of the rewards.

"We have had cross-licensing agreements for many, many years. We have more than 100 cross-licensing agreements. There are very few times where we have ended up in litigation. It's the majority we're solving between each other," he said.

"Any other industry wouldn't share [research], but we agree on standards, and then you need to look at the contributions of each and every one to get a fair and reasonable distribution of it.

"We do US$5 billion in research and development every year; which I would say is the biggest amount in the industry going into mobile infrastructure. So, of course, we expect a fair and reasonable distribution on that when people use our technology."

Ericsson today also announced a major new hyperscale datacenter system (HDS) 8000 which is built on the Intel Rack Scale Architecture, Ericsson Secure Cloud Storage, and Ericsson Continuum. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said it was important for the industries to collaborate for the delivery of telco, cloud, and data centre services.

Josh Taylor travelled to Mobile World Congress as a guest of Ericsson.

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