Apple and Ericsson Sign Licensing Deal to Settle Patent Dispute

Apple and Swedish mobile telecom gear maker Ericsson today announced that they have signed a multi-year, global patent license agreement that will effectively put an end to a long-running legal spat over 4G, 5G, and other cellular technology patents.

“We are pleased to settle the litigations with Apple with this agreement, which is of strategic importance to our 5G licensing program. This will allow both companies to continue to focus on bringing the best technology to the global market,” said Christina Petersson, Chief Intellectual Property Officer at Ericsson.

Until now, Apple and Ericsson were embroiled in a legal standoff that could be traced all the way back to 2015, when they sued each other over dozens of Ericsson patents related to cellular tech in Apple products like the iPhone and iPad.

The two parties eventually reached a seven-year patent licensing agreement in late 2015. However, they went right back to flinging lawsuits at each other in late 2021 as the 2015 agreement neared its expiry and the two sides failed to reach a mutual agreement on terms for extending their arrangement and how additional patents related to newer 5G technology would be handled.

“This settlement ends the lawsuits filed by both companies in several countries, including in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas, as well as the complaints filed before the United States International Trade Commission (USITC),” Ericsson said in its announcement.

Back in January, Ericsson petitioned the USITC for an import ban on all Apple products with its 4G/5G tech, which included iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.

The two tech giants reached a settlement before a verdict could be delivered in their protracted legal battle. According to Ericsson, the agreement “includes a cross-license relating to patented cellular standard-essential technologies and grants certain other patent rights.”

What’s more, the two companies have also mutually agreed to more closely collaborate on technology, interoperability, and standards development.

Ericson estimates expects its intellectual property rights licensing business to bring in revenues of SEK 5.5 – 6.0 billion (approximately $532-580 million USD or $726-791.5 million CAD) in the fourth quarter alone.