Monday, July 11, 2022

Colombian 5G iPhone ban: Apple urges Texas-based court to hold emergency hearing *this week* to discuss antisuit damages motion against Ericsson

In a new court filing, Apple just stressed the "magnitude of the harm to Apple" from Ericsson's enforcement of a preliminary injunction over a 5G standard-essential patent (SEP). As I noted in a second post on the Colombian situation and Apple's related "emergency motion" in the Eastern District of Texas, Apple and its Colombian counsel have done just what they are now faulting Ericsson for--and it's odd to see Apple, which closed its two Apple Stores in that district, complain about someone trying to "subvert" Judge Gilstrap's jurisdiction.

On Sunday, Ericsson noted that Apple's Texas motion "primarily seeks monetary relief" and, therefore, "it is far from clear that Apple’s motion should be accorded emergency treatment." But Ericsson was willing to agree to a reasonably tight briefing schedule, under which Ericsson would reply by the end of this week (one week from when the motion was brought and served on Ericsson), giving Apple seven days for a reply, and should Ericsson have to file a sur-reply, it would ask for another three days. In the meantime, Ericsson would rather "allow[] the parties to focus their energy on completing fact discovery, which closes in this case this Friday, July 15."

Apple has now responded and says "Ericsson’s proposal does not reflect the immediacy and magnitude of the harm to Apple from Ericsson’s furtive actions in Colombia." I can't help but put the word "furtive" into context: while it is true that Ericsson brought ex parte motions that enable courts to decide urgent matters without hearing the non-moving party, the Colombian order that started enforcement came down after Apple had actually filed an opposition brief.

Apple now wants to give Ericsson only until midnight Central Time tomorrow (i.e., in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday), and urges the court to hold a hearing on "July 13, 14, or 15, whichever is most convenient for the Court." It's possible that none of the three proposed dates (this week's Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) is "convenient" for the court.

Based on what Apple has told the courts so far, the economic impact of the Colombian injunction is in the millions, not billions--but Apple itself disputed any urgency a few years ago after its contract manufacturers had ceased SEP royalty payments they were making to Qualcomm on Apple's behalf. And that amount was in the billions.

The Ericsson-Apple dispute is getting ever more interesting, which includes that the Munich I Regional Court's press office answered an inquiry from me today with details of two Apple v. Ericsson cases, one of which is Apple's first known SEP assertion in the history of the company.