Ericsson sues Lenovo and its Motorola business over 5G patents

'Ericsson has filed a number of lawsuits against Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola Mobility for patent infringement in multiple jurisdictions,' the company said. Lenovo so far hasn't responded to questions on the topic.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

October 12, 2023

3 Min Read
Ericsson stand with logo sign at MWC 2023
(Source: Matthias Oesterle/Alamy Live News)

Ericsson confirmed to Light Reading that it is taking legal action against China's Lenovo, and its Motorola subsidiary, over patent licensing.

"Ericsson has filed a number of lawsuits against Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola Mobility for patent infringement in multiple jurisdictions. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to reach agreement on the terms and scope of a license, and both Lenovo and Motorola Mobility are using our technology without a license," Ericsson wrote in a statement. "Ericsson's annual investments in R&D of around $4 billion have led to our leading global position in 5G and a leading 5G patent portfolio. The possibility for fair compensation through patent licensing is important to ensure new investments in innovation that benefit our customers and consumers everywhere."

The company declined to provide any further information. A representative from China's Lenovo said the company does not comment on litigation.

The moves do not come as a surprise. Companies in the 5G industry – particularly major players like Ericsson – routinely file patent-infringement lawsuits against one another in pursuit of licensing revenues.

Indeed, Ericsson itself is fresh off a massive settlement with iPhone maker Apple. The two companies did not disclose the terms of their patent-licensing agreement, but 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.

Related:The wireless industry is drowning in 5G patents

Ericsson reported roughly $289 million in patent-licensing revenues in the second quarter of this year, up from $132 million in the year-ago quarter. The company pointed to its Apple deal as a reason for the increase.

"We landed another important 5G licensing agreement with a device vendor, further validating our IPR [intellectual property rights] portfolio strength, positioning us well for continued IPR growth as we license vendors previously unlicensed for 5G," the company wrote in its earnings release.

In 2017, Ericsson said it would charge $2.50 to $5 per 5G phone for its patents. That roughly matches what its rivals are seeking. For example, Huawei said it charges around $2.50 per 5G phone for its patents. Nokia wants $3.50. And Qualcomm believes it could get up to $16.25 in royalties for every 5G phone sold.

According to a new report from LexisNexis IPlytics, China's Huawei came in first in the firm's overall assessment of 5G patent values. Qualcomm, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia followed, in that order. Apple came in at No. 12, and Lenovo came in at No. 13.

Lenovo, for its part, is working to revive the Motorola Razr brand with a new folding smartphone. The gadget recently went on sale in the US.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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