Ericsson's Texas see-saw patent massacre

KPN sues Ericsson for patent-infringement in a district court in Texas, only weeks after the Swedish supplier did the same to Samsung.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

April 2, 2021

2 Min Read
Ericsson's Texas see-saw patent massacre

Ericsson is no stranger to district courts in Texas, the go-to place in the US to try to sort out tech patent disputes.

In recent legal tussles with South Korea's Samsung, the Swedish supplier has been a plaintiff in the "Lonestar State." Ericsson now finds itself on the backfoot there.

Dutch heavyweight operator KPN, according to a Reuters report, has filed a patent infringement complaint against Ericsson – again, in a district court in Texas – over alleged infringements of five KPN patents. They apparently relate to various wireless network functions.

In a court filing, KPN said it had offered Ericsson licenses, but it wasn't taken up. The Swedish supplier, if KPN's allegations are true, carried on regardless.

In what was evidently a standard email response to Light Reading's request for comment, Ericsson simply said it was "aware of this patent-infringement complaint filed by KPN," before adding that "we refrain from making any further comments since this is an ongoing legal matter."

Whirring up a slice of the money action

How much money might be involved in the KPN claim is unclear, although the Dutch operator is looking for monetary compensation. There are known to be fairly substantial sums swirling around Ericsson's patent rift with Samsung, however.

Last December, Ericsson accused Samsung of not playing ball in the renewal of patent licenses by "violating contractual commitments to negotiate in good faith."

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

According to Ericsson, Samsung didn't adhere to so-called FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms.

The Swedish thought that the whole imbroglio, when taking into account potential costs of litigation and delayed royalty payments, could impact quarterly operating income by between SEK1 billion (US$118 million) and SEK1.5 billion ($177 million), starting in the first quarter of this year.

Chris DePuy, a technology analyst at 650 Group, calculates that just over half of Ericsson's operating profit during the last two years, on an IFRS basis, was derived from intellectual property licensing.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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