January 8, 2020
Intel has filed a lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group (“Fortress”), a patent assertion entity controlled by SoftBank.
Intel’s suit appears to be an attempt to respond to a number of patent infringement lawsuits that Fortress has brought against Intel. Among other claims of patent infringement, Fortress has claimed that nearly every Intel processor made since 2011 infringed Fortress’s patents. Intel is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to declare Fortress’s business practices illegal, to award damages, and is also asking that the patents held by Fortress be transferred back to the original transferors and declared unenforceable.
In its claim, Intel has alleged that Fortress’s patent aggregation business practice is anticompetitive and thus illegal. The complaint describes Fortress’s business practice as one in which the company is “acquir[ing] patents at costs below their hold-up value and then, through the benefit of its anticompetitive scheme, extract[ing] higher payments from licensees that reflect hold-up value rather than the actual value of the patents based on their technical and commercial merits.”
Intel is reportedly not the only technology company that has been targeted by Fortress’s business practice. Other companies include Apple, Google, ZTE, Netflix and Hulu. It remains to be seen whether these tech giants will also fight back against Fortress.
Fortress was purchased by Softbank in 2017 for US$3.3 billion. Softbank has recently been in the news for another significant investment it has made in WeWork.
Authors: Amanda Bertucci and Jon Wall