Ericsson bid to ban iPhone sales moves ahead with ITC probe

Ericsson HQ

Ericsson’s unlikely attempt to have iPhone sales barred in the U.S. has taken a modest step forward. The International Trade Commission, an independent agency that specializes in investigating trade violations, has agreed to look into Ericsson’s claim that Apple infringed on its LTE technology patent.

In its formal complaint, Ericsson accused Apple of violating section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The company claims that Apple illegally imported phones and tablets that came loaded with patented technology. With its complaint, Ericsson is requesting the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

“By instituting this investigation (337-TA-953), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case,” the ITC wrote in a press release. “The products at issue in the investigation are certain wireless standard compliant devices including communication devices and tablet computers, including certain Apple iPhones, iPads, and other cellular-enabled products that use the 2G GSM and 4G LTE telecommunications standards.”

Ericsson sued Apple last February. Aside from filing with the ITC, the company also lodged seven complaints with a U.S. District Court in Texas. In total, Ericsson is claiming 41 patent violations in relation to iPhones and iPads.

“Apple’s products benefit from the technology invented and patented by Ericsson’s engineers. Features that consumers now take for granted — like being able to livestream television shows or access their favorite apps from their phone — rely on the technology we have developed. We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution. Apple currently uses our technology without a license and therefore we are seeking help from the court and the ITC,” Kasim Alfalahi, Ericsson’s chief intellectual property officer, said in a press release.

Over the years, Ericsson has formed a reputation for being aggressive with patent litigation. Aside from suing Apple, it has also filed cases against Samsung and Chinese phone maker Xiaomi.