Photographer: Peter Kollanyi/Bloomberg

Get Ready for Patent Wars as IP Europe Consortium Is Unveiled

  • Ericsson, Airbus lead intellectual property consortium
  • Goal is to battle for rules to better cash in on innovation

Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. beware -- Europe is getting ready for patent wars.

Some of Europe’s biggest producers of intellectual property are teaming up to battle for rules that’ll help them cash in better on innovation. Telecommunications network builder Ericsson AB, plane maker Airbus Group SE, French phone company Orange SA and train maker Alstom SA are among companies behind IP Europe, a consortium due to be unveiled today in Brussels.

The initiative comes at a time when threats to sue competitors over patents have surfaced in all sorts of products, from hoverboards to cars. Mobile phones have been at the forefront of such lengthy battles, which have affected almost everyone in the technology industry: From Apple versus Samsung, to Samsung versus chipmaker Nvidia Corp.

Through IP Europe, companies plan to lobby the European Commission on patents and are hoping to level the playing field with technology, communications and other innovation-makers including in the U.S. and China. The consortium’s focus will include so-called standard-essential patents -- key industry patents -- which, through standardization, become necessary for all players in an industry but tend to generate decreasing revenues.

Ericsson was entangled in a global licensing battle with Apple over such fundamental patents. The Swedish company claimed the iPhone maker infringed on its patents fundamental to the way mobile devices communicate, until they reached a settlement in December.

Ericsson is ninth on the list of companies with the biggest number of patents filed in Europe, while Airbus is the 24th, according to the latest data by the European Patent Office. Samsung Electronics Co., Royal Philips NV and Siemens AG are the top three companies on that ranking.

IP Europe will be headed by Mogens Peter Carl, a former EU Commission official.