5G and Beyond

Winner unclear in Apple, Ericsson 5G patent settlement

Tech heavyweights Apple and Ericsson announced Friday that they settled their globe-spanning patent licensing battle. But it's not clear which company may have come out ahead.

Terms of the companies' new "multi-year" licensing deal were not disclosed.

"My guess is that this is a reasonably good outcome for both sides," wrote Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert who maintains the Foss Patents website.

In a note to investors Friday morning, the financial analysts at Raymond James estimated that the companies' new deal will result in licensing payments by Apple to Ericsson of roughly $100 million per quarter. They noted that's up from the $55 million they estimated Apple paid Ericsson under their previous licensing agreement, but "Apple's previous agreement included an unquantified upfront payment, so we cannot make an apples to apples comparison."

Regardless, the massive settlement brings closure to a licensing disagreement that stretched across courtrooms around the world and involved a wide range of patent infringement and counter-infringement claims.

At its core, the case between Apple and Erisson centered on how much money Apple should pay Ericsson for access to Ericsson's 5G patents. As noted by Mueller, Apple had faced several legal setbacks prior to the jury trial on the issue that started earlier this week in a Texas courtroom.

Of course, an agreement between Apple and Ericsson is just one piece of a wider licensing puzzle. The 5G patent-licensing landscape remains unclear, which is forcing each player to ink direct licensing agreements with every other player. For companies like Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericsson, that represents millions of dollars in licensing revenues.

For example, Apple plans to spend nearly $1 billion over the next seven years for a license to InterDigital's patents.

In other patent-licensing news, Chinese technology giant Huawei said Friday it will license its 5G patents to rival handset maker Oppo, according to CNBC.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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