ericsson_Intex(By NT Balanarayan & Vikas SN)

Telecom network equipment maker Ericsson has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Intex for alleged infringement of its Standard Essential Patents, reports SpicyIP.

Ericsson has apparently sought an ad-interim injunction on the grounds that Intex is an “unwilling licensee” as its tactics for license procurement was “barely satisfactory”. However, the judge dismissed this saying both the company have been in negotiations since 2008 and had also communicated a day before filing the lawsuit.

The next hearing on the matter is due on May 8. Intex is among the several Indian companies that sell affordable smartphones in India with prices ranging from Rs 3,200 – Rs 19,900.

CCI Anti-trust probe

This lawsuit follows an anti-trust probe (pdf) by CCI in January this year, after Intex complained that Ericsson was demanding an exorbitant royalty and unfair terms for its patents.

CCI mentioned that it had ordered this probe since the company was indulging in discriminatory trade practices as there was no linkage between the royalty rates and the patented product. It also noted that Ericsson was acting contrary to the FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) terms by charging patent royalties based on the cost of the user product (mobile phone, tablets and others) rather than the product being licensed (chipset), which is discriminatory.

This is quite similar to what CCI had said after Micromax had filed a similar anti-trust complaint against Ericsson. CCI had informed that it would be clubbing this case with the existing Ericsson anti-trust probe and had told the director general to investigate for any violation of the provisions of the Competition Act and submit his report in the next 60 days.

CCI restricted from judging patent royalty cases

Following this, Ericsson had reportedly filed a writ order at the Delhi High Court challenging the CCI order, as per a SpicyIP report  It had also challenged CCI’s jurisdiction on these patent royalty cases through a separate writ, following which the judge has directed the Director General (DG) of CCI to avoid passing any final order on these cases until the jurisdiction matter has been resolved.

It had also restricted him from calling any foreign officers for investigation without asking the court, which was later reversed allowing DG to call foreign officers for the investigation, although Ericsson has an option to approach the court if it feels the summons was unnecessary.

Ericsson vs Micromax

– Ericsson had filed a patent infringement lawsuit worth Rs 100 crore against Micromax in March 2013, alleging that Micromax had infringed on eight Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) used in its 2G, 3G and 4G devices. This was after Micromax had reportedly refused to sign a FRAND license agreement and a three-year negotiation with the company had failed. Interestingly, Ericsson had then mentioned that it was looking to file similar lawsuits against other local handset makers like Lava, Spice, Karbonn and Intex Technologies.

– Micromax and Ericsson had later agreed upon an interim arrangement as per which Micromax had to deposit a specific interim payment with the Delhi High Court (More on the arrangement and payment details). CCI said that Micromax had deposited Rs 29.45 crore as royalty payment as of May 31, 2013.

– Micromax had later approached Competition Commission of India (CCI), claiming that Ericsson was demanding an exorbitant, unfair and discriminatory royalty for its patents. It also claimed that Ericsson was abusing its dominant position by charging an exorbitant royalty, since it is the sole licensor for those patents and there was no alternate technology available.

Ericsson vs Samsung

Ericsson had also filed a similar lawsuit against the electronics major Samsung in November 2012, after the latter had refused to renew a patent license agreement with Ericsson and a two-year negotiation with the company had failed. Samsung had previously licensed Ericsson’s patents in 2001 and had renewed it in 2007. Following this, Samsung had countersued Ericsson with its own set of patent infringements claims last week.

In January this year, Ericsson had finally signed a multi-year cross-licensing patent agreement with Samsung which included an initial payment and an ongoing royalty payments from Samsung to Ericsson. This agreement covered patents relating to GSM, UMTS, and LTE standards for both networks and handsets.Both the companies had also ended its patent related legal disputes.