Intel 5G ModemSource: Intel

What you need to know

  • Apple and Intel have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group.
  • Fortress, backed by SoftBank, is alleged to have stockpiled patents, using them to shakedown tech firms with spurious claims.
  • Intel and Apple claims these patents were acquired for the sole purpose of conducting litigation, and that Fortress has violated U.S. antitrust laws.

A report suggests that Apple and Intel have filed a lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group, over claims it has acquired patents for the sole purpose of litigating against large tech companies and that it has violated U.S. antitrust laws.

According to Reuters:

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) on Wednesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group, alleging the SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) unit stockpiled patents to hold up tech firms with lawsuits demanding as much as $5.1 billion.

The suit follows an earlier case that Intel filed against Fortress in October. Intel withdrew that suit and on Wednesday filed a new version in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with Apple joining as a plaintiff.

According to the report, Apple and Intel allege that Fortress, and firms under its ownership, do not make any technology products and that it has stockpiled patents "for the primary purpose of suing technology companies" and did so in a manner that violated U.S. antitrust laws.

The suit purports that Fortress and connected firms have filed at least 25 lawsuits against Apple, demanding between $2.6 billion and $5.1 billion in damages. One such suit alleges that Apple violated a step-counting patent in its device with health tracking apps.

Two Fortress-connected firms, Uniloc USA and Uniloc Luxembourg, "have disclosed that they believe they are entitled to damages of between $1.41 and $2.75 per Apple product, for total damages in the range of $375 to $732 million," Apple wrote in its complaint.

Curiously, Apple notes that the per-unit damages requested in these suits "is a facade." This is because it represents the same amounts that Apple sought from Samsung whilst famously litigating against the Korean giant. There is no indication at this stage as to what exactly the lawsuit from Intel and Apple seeks by way of reparations or measures to prevent such claims in the future.

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Recently, Apple took to its website to publish a legal note in which it reiterated its own commitment to the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing of standard essential patents. Apple acquired Intel's smartphone modem business earlier this year, along with a patent portfolio of some 17,000 wireless technology patents.