Apple is now barred from importing and selling iPhone 12 and 13 in Colombia


A court in Bogota, Colombia has granted Ericsson a preliminary injunction against Apple, which prevents Cupertino and its subsidiaries and partners from importing, selling and even advertising certain iPhones and iPads with 5G connectivity.

This is the first major victory for Ericsson after it and Apple renewed legal hostilities earlier this year. The argument is over the licensing fees for certain Standard-Essential Patents (SEP) relating to 5G. Apple accepts that the patents are valid, but it believes that Ericsson is overcharging for them.

This preliminary injunction (which Apple is appealing, of course) means that sales of the iPhone 12 and 13 series, as well as newer iPads with 5G must be halted in Colombia. The judge also informed the local customs authority to block imports of those same products, plus Apple is required to contact online and offline stores and social media platforms to stop selling and advertising the iPhones and iPads that are already in stock.

The Colombian court also granted an “anti-antisuit injunction”. In plain English, this prevents Apple from trying to use a court in another country to pressure Ericsson into lifting the import and sales ban in Colombia (e.g. by asking a court in the US to penalize Ericsson’s US operations).

Instead, Apple’s lawyers are seeking “antisuit damages” in the Eastern District of Texas, asking Chief Judge Rodney S. Gilstrap to decide that Apple must indemnify Apple from any fees, fines, penalties and costs arising from the injunction by the Colombian court.

An English translation of part of the judge's ruling in Colombia
An English translation of part of the judge's ruling in Colombia

An English translation of part of the judge’s ruling in Colombia

Interestingly, Apple tried to make the argument that there are no 5G networks currently available to consumers in Colombia and that “an injunction on a purportedly 5G essential method patent cannot be enforced until a 5G network is activated in Colombia.” However, the Colombian judge didn’t buy that as the phones and tablets may infringe on the patent during trials of local 5G networks and as soon as a local carrier launches its next-gen network. Trials started in 2020, the first 5G network in Colombia is expected to go live by the end of this year, so that is not an unreasonable judgment.

Anyway, Colombia is hardly a large market for Apple. But if this is just the first domino to fall, Apple may be in trouble and it will have to pay Ericsson’s fee for the patents. Apparently, Apple pays less than $15 SEP royalties per phone, worth around 2% of the sales price of a new iPhone.

If you are interested in the legal details, follow the Source link to FOSS Patents. Author Florian Mueller also has a curious write-up on how Apple is being hypocritical and is accusing Ericsson of things it is doing itself (e.g. it is charging app developers a 15-30% fee for each app sold on the App Store).

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