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Ericsson whines loudly; U.S. trade commission agrees to investigate Apple

Ericsson whines loudly; U.S. trade commission agrees to investigate Apple

Apple patent

Apple patent

Image Credit: Illustration by Eric Blattberg / VentureBeat

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Round and round. Over and over. Suit and counter suit. This is the monotonous, high-stakes back-and-forth between highly-paid attorneys in the smartphone patent wars.

Ericsson believes some of the LTE technology Apple uses in Phones and other devices infringes on its own patents. Apple sued Ericsson in January, saying that the communications technology used in its products doesn’t depend on the Ericsson patents. Ericsson counter-sued just two days later.

Of course, all this wrangling isn’t really about who owns what; it’s about the amount of money Apple will pay Ericsson to license the patented Ericsson technology. It’s kind of like how generals attack each other on the battlefield in an attempt to gain ground that can give their bosses leverage at the bargaining table thousands of miles away.

Now Ericsson has stomped its feet loudly enough to convince the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that it should investigate Apple’s use of its technology.

“The products at issue in the investigation are certain wireless standard compliant devices,” the ITC said in a statement Monday, “including communication devices and tablet computers, including certain Apple iPhones, iPads, and other cellular-enabled products that use the 2G GSM and 4G LTE telecommunications standards.”

It’s not likely anything game-changing will come out of the investigation, but it could give Ericsson some PR points and maybe a little more leverage in the licensing negotiations.

As Martyn Williams of IDG News Service pointed out, patent battles in the courts often take forever to play out, sometimes leaving the lawyers arguing about technology that long since became obsolete. While, of course, still being well-paid to keep the arguing going.

But the ITC’s decision to investigate raises the stakes somewhat for Apple. The ITC has the power to ban the importation of products it believes violate patents, which could have an immediate and painful effect on sales.

Score one for Ericsson. Apple’s move.

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company’s best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t… read more »

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