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More patent strife for Apple as it trades suits with Ericsson

arrangement.Courtesy of Ericsson

Swedish telecom equipment supplier Ericsson AB (ERIC) said Wednesday it has filed a complaint against Apple Inc. (AAPL) over mobile technology licences, hitting back at the iPhone maker which had sued it earlier this month.

Ericsson said Apple’s licence to use technology developed by the Swedish company and used in many smartphones and tablet computers had expired and that two years of negotiations had not led to a new deal.

Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said the licence had run out “very recently”.

“We have been trying to negotiate a new agreement. We came to the conclusion we needed the help of a third party,” Alfalahi said.

Ericsson wants the court to determine whether its licence offer is on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

Apple filed a suit on Jan. 12 alleging that Ericsson’s LTE wireless technology patents are not essential to industry cellular standards and that the Swedish company is demanding excessive royalties for the patents.

“We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products. Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help,” said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet.

Early last year Apple rival Samsung Electronics Co (SSNLF) agreed to pay Ericsson $650 million along with years of royalties to end a technology licence dispute.

Ericsson said its 2014 fourth quarter IPR revenues would include payments from Apple under the previous agreement.

Ericsson had revenues from intellectual property rights of 10.6 billion crowns ($1.31 billion) in 2013.

It has more than 100 agreements including ones with most major players in the industry.

Ericsson filed its complaint in Texas, while Apple filed its lawsuit in California.

It’s the second big new lawsuit filed by the Swedish company in as many months. In December, it won an injunction to stop China’s Xiaomi selling its mobile phones in India, in an important test case for the world’s third-largest smartphone maker. Ericsson has accused Xiaomi, which is now the world’s most valuable start-up company with a value of over $41 billion, of patent infringement.