Apple, Intel team up against SoftBank-funded patent troll

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Patent trolls are a scourge for technology companies like Intel and Apple. Now the two tech giants have teamed up to take down one of the biggest, Softbank-financed Fortress Investment Group. Intel and Apple have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress, alleging the company has stockpiled patents expressly for the purpose of suing companies like Intel and Apple to extract profit, according to Reuters.

Patent trolls are businesses that acquire patents with the express goal of threatening or suing other companies to extract profit, with no plans to develop products of their own based on the technology. There have been various legislative efforts put forth over the years to help rein in the effects of patent trolls, but the strategy can still be effective, since may businesses would rather settle nuisance patent claims than engage in a long, drawn out legal battle with murky outcomes.

Intel sued Fortress earlier this year but withdrew its lawsuit. On Wednesday, the suit was refiled with Apple as co-plaintiff. According to the report:

Intel and Apple allege that Fortress and firms it either owned or whose patent portfolios it effectively controlled – and which do no make any technology products – stockpiled patents for the primary purpose of suing technology companies and did so in a manner that violated U.S. antitrust laws.

Apple frequently goes toe to toe in court with patent trolls, and it’s really par for course for any company of Apple’s size and valuation. In 2018 the company lost a $500 million suit filed by VirnetX in a decade-long patent fight that doesn’t show any signs of letting up yet.

Apple said the suit that Fortress and its business entities had filed at least 25 lawsuits demanding $2.6 – $5.1 billion in damages. Apple called the figure “a facade” in its filings.