In a rather unusual escalation of a dispute between Apple and Ericsson, it seems both the import and sale of 5G iPhones and iPads have been banned in Colombia where a court has determined that Apple's products infringe on a 5G patent owned by Ericsson.
According to news and rumour site Apple Insider, a judgement in a Bogota court declared in April that Apple's 5G hardware infringes on a claim contained in a Colombian patent granted to Ericsson in 2019. The patent, deemed to be standards-related and essential to 5G, is, according to the court, valid until December 2037.
The Apple Insider website explains that Apple had been paying Ericsson the royalty fees to use the patented 5G technology in its devices, but it failed to renew the licenses when they expired. Ericsson then accused Apple of patent infringement.
Apple claimed the patents were standard-essential, and that this made the licensing fees too expensive. It then sued the Swedish company on claims that it violated friendly, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
The import and sale ban was announced this weekend. It extends to advertising, or otherwise commercializing any products infringing the patent – that means any 5G-equipped iPhone or iPad.
Appple also has to tell anyone involved in the sale or promotion of the devices to ensure compliance. The Colombian customs authority must prevent imports of the affected hardware.
Apple is appealing the ruling, but the terms of the court order make it difficult for Apple to gain an antisuit injunction against Ericsson. It therefore plans to demand antisuit damages in the Eastern District of Texas, a different thing altogether, apparently.
This is far from the only 5G patent lawsuit going on between these two industry giants right now. Put another way, lawsuits by both parties don’t look like ceasing any time soon.