Apple Hit With More Patent Lawsuits

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) —

Things got quite litigious for Apple late last week.

Since a jury Tuesday ordered Apple Inc. to pay $532.9 million for infringing on a Texas company’s patents, the Cupertino, Calif., company has been hit with a slew of new patent lawsuits.

Smartflash, the Texas company that got the jury win, filed a new suit Wednesday alleging that Apple violated its patents with devices that debuted after the original case was already underway.

Meanwhile, an ongoing patent dispute with Ericsson ratcheted up a few notches Thursday when the Swedish mobile-phone pioneer filed seven lawsuits in federal court and two complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission accusing Apple of infringing on 41 patents covering a wide array of technologies related to iPhones and iPads.

Apple and Ericsson have traded suits since January, when a licensing agreement expired that required Apple to pay Ericsson royalties for using its mobile technology.

All told, Ericsson’s legal actions are seeking an exclusion order against Apple’s products, as well as damages.

The patents cover high-speed wireless technology including 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE standards, as well as GPS technology, according to complaints filed in federal court.

“We are committed to sharing our innovations and have acted in good faith to find a fair solution,” Kasim Alfalahi, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson, said in a statement Friday.

Reached for comment Friday, an Apple spokeswoman referred to a company statement from January when Apple filed a suit against Ericsson as part of the back-and-forth dispute.

“We’ve always been willing to pay a fair price to secure the rights to standards essential patents covering technology in our products,” Apple said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree with Ericsson on a fair rate for their patents so, as a last resort, we are asking the courts for help.”

Ericsson’s suits, like Smartflash’s, were filed in the US. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, a popular venue for patent plaintiffs.

The new Smartflash LLC suit alleges Apple’s products introduced after its first suit — like the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 — continued to infringe on seven of its patents that cover methods of managing digital rights and paying for songs, games and other data.

In its original suit, Smartflash accused Apple of infringing on its six patents — though that number was later narrowed down to three — with its iTunes software and devices that use iTunes.

An Apple spokeswoman referred to the company’s earlier statement from Tuesday, criticizing Smartflash for patent abuse.

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” Apple said in that statement.

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