Ericsson has filed a lawsuit against Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola, claiming that both companies have infringed numerous patents in its portfolio, particularly those involving 5G technology.
The dispute originates from the lack of agreement on licensing terms, a dispute that has persisted for over a decade. In fact, Ericsson accuses Lenovo of continuing to use its technology without authorization, despite attempts to negotiate a settlement. This has led the Swedish giant to believe that its patent rights have been infringed.
Ericsson initially contacted Lenovo in 2008, complaining about unauthorized use of 2G and 3G patents in a range of products including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and personal computers.
Subsequently, in 2010 Ericsson had proposed a cross-licensing agreement to solve the dispute. The agreement provided for mutual licensing of both parties’ intellectual property, along with Lenovo paying Ericsson an amount for past and future use of the patents in question. However, Lenovo has consistently resisted paying past royalties on previously sold unauthorized products, which has led to the current legal dispute.
Patent licensing disputes represent a significant source of revenue for Ericsson and are a constant in the industry.
For example, in March 2023, Lenovo was ordered to pay $138.7 million to InterDigital to obtain a license to use its patents, after having signed a licensing agreement with NTT Docomo in late 2022 covering patents essential for 5G standards.
For its part, Ericsson entered into an extensive patent licensing agreement with Huawei in August 2023, covering the sale of network infrastructure and consumer devices, as well as access to the respective technologies. Additionally, late last year, Ericsson settled a protracted legal dispute over 5G patents with Apple, stipulating that the latter must pay about $100 million to Ericsson every quarter. This deal significantly increased Ericsson’s patent licensing revenue, which reached $289 million in the second quarter of this year, up from $132 million a year earlier.
The lawsuit between Ericsson and Lenovo could have significant implications in the 5G technology sector, especially as both companies play key roles in this growing market.