Colombian court bans 5G iPhones and iPads in Ericsson patent case

Apple’s 5G-equipped iPhones and iPads are no longer allowed to be sold and imported into Colombia after a court ruled that Apple’s products infringed an Ericsson patent.

In an escalation of an ongoing patent infringement war between Apple and Ericsson, Apple has fallen victim to a court decision in Bogota. The two companies are fighting over 5G patents owned by Ericsson, which Apple allegedly infringed.

The Juzgado 042 Civil del Circuito de Bogota in Colombia’s capital stated in April that Apple’s 5G hardware infringes claim 13 of Colombia’s patent NC2019/0003681. FOSS patents reports that the patent, considered essential to 5G and granted to Ericsson in 2019, will remain valid by the court until December 2037.

After the April breach, Ericsson posted $50,000 bail the following month so that enforcement could take place. The court then ordered preliminary injunction against Apple Colombia SAS, the Cupertino company’s subsidiary in the country, on July 6.

Under the injunction, Apple may not import, sell, advertise or otherwise commercialize products that infringe its patent, meaning any 5G-equipped iPhone or iPad. Apple must also “warn and communicate” with retailers, social media platforms, mass media and other businesses to ensure compliance.

The court also orders the Colombian customs authority, the National Taxation and Customs Directorate, to prevent the importation of the affected hardware.

Apple is appealing the ruling, but there’s an unusual wrinkle in the proceedings. Judge Ronald Neil Orozco Gomez has ruled that Apple cannot request or enforce an “antisuit injunction” from another country that would prevent or limit the enforcement of the provisional injunction.

The court order, called an “anti-antisuit injunction,” makes it difficult for Apple to obtain an anti-suit injunction against Ericsson, as doing so would violate the court order.

Instead of trying to fight the Colombian order, Apple is instead seeking damages in the Eastern District of Texas. An urgent appeal to the court on Friday had alleged that the order gives Ericsson “economic and logistical leverage” to pressure the company to abandon its lawsuit and pay Ericsson’s royalty demands.

The motion asks Chief Justice Rodney S. Gilstrap to rule that Ericsson “must hold harmless Apple from all fines, fees, penalties and costs it incurs as a result of the Colombian injunction.”

The logic behind this move is that Apple’s motion seeks not an injunction against a lawsuit, but instead a claim for damages, which would technically ease the restrictions of the Colombian court.