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The sale and import of Apple’s 5G-equipped iPhones and iPads in Colombia has been banned after a court found Apple’s products infringe an Ericsson patent.
In an escalation of an ongoing patent infringement war between Apple and Ericsson, Apple has fallen victim to a court ruling in Bogotá. The two companies are fighting over Ericsson’s 5G patents that Apple allegedly infringed.
The Juzgado 042 Civil del Circuito de Bogota in the Colombian capital said in April that Apple’s 5G hardware infringes claim 13 of Colombian patent NC2019/0003681. FOSS Patents reports that the patent, considered essential to 5G and granted to Ericsson in 2019, is set to remain valid until December 2037, according to the court.
Following the April breach, Ericsson posted $50,000 bail the following month to allow enforcement. The court then ordered an injunction on July 6 affecting Apple Colombia SAS, the company’s Cupertino-based subsidiary in the country.
Under the injunction, Apple is prohibited from importing, selling, advertising or otherwise commercializing products that infringe the patent, i.e. any 5G-equipped iPhones or iPads. Apple must also “warn and communicate” with retailers, social media platforms, mass media and other businesses to ensure compliance.
The court also ordered Colombia’s customs agency, the Direccion de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales, to prevent importation of the affected hardware.
Apple is appealing the verdict, but the proceedings have an unusual crease. Judge Ronald Neil Orozco Gomez ruled that Apple cannot seek or enforce an antisuit injunction from a foreign country that may prevent or limit enforcement of the injunction.
The court order, called an “antisuit injunction,” makes it difficult for Apple to obtain an antisuit injunction against Ericsson, as doing so would violate the court order.
Instead of trying to fight the Colombian order, Apple is instead trying to seek antisuit damages in the Eastern District of Texas. Apple claimed in an urgent court filing on Friday that the injunction gives Ericsson “economic and logistical clout” to pressure the company into dropping its litigation and paying Ericsson’s royalties.
The motion asks Chief Justice Rodney S. Gilstrap to rule that Ericsson “must indemnify Apple from all fines, charges, penalties and costs it incurs as a result of the Colombian injunction.”
The logic behind the move is that Apple’s request is not for an injunction but for a claim for damages that would technically ease the Colombian court’s restrictions.