iPhone sales halted in Colombia, with more bans likely to follow. Here's why

Colombia is no biggie, but it could spread to territories that really matter to Apple.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Ericsson has secured an iPhone and iPad Pro sales ban in Colombia over 5G patent infringements.

According to Foss Patents, this comes "[l]ess than six months after the current wave of Ericsson v. Apple patent infringement actions started."

The backstory here is somewhat complicated but can be boiled down to the following points:

  1. Apple used to pay Ericsson royalty fees for patented 5G technologies.
  2. Apple failed to renew the licenses when they expired.
  3. Ericsson sued Apple.
  4. Apple then sued Ericsson, claiming that the company was violating FRAND rules, the patents were standard-essential patents, and Ericsson's licensing fees were too high.

There followed a whole bunch of legal actions and counteractions, with both companies attempting to get sales bans on the other company's hardware. 

And now this has culminated in a sales ban.

In Colombia.

An interesting side note is that there are no 5G networks currently in operation in Colombia, and a legal way around the ban would be for Apple to sell 4G handsets in that country.

This ban is likely no big deal for Apple given the small size of that market. The problem is several more lawsuits are making their way through various courts in various territories.

And since Apple isn't disputing the validity of the patents, it's almost certainly opening itself out to bans being enforced in other countries.

A ban in the US or Europe could be very serious indeed for Apple.

But Apple, predictably, isn't taking this lying down, and is, amongst other things, suing Ericsson over a 4G patent which it claims is a standards-essential patent.

It's clear here that Apple is playing a game. A serious game, but a game nonetheless. The company is trying to lighten its patent licensing costs and is going after patents that Ericsson holds. 

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