With literally billions of dollars of cash in the bank, it’s no great surprise that Apple has long been a favorite target for patent trolls looking to make a quick buck. And though Apple tends to be targeted more than most, tech companies across the board simply can’t seem to escape a barrage of what are typically frivolous lawsuits.
When faced with pesky lawsuits from patent trolls, some companies are inclined to settle as opposed to embarking on what can often be costly litigation. Other companies, meanwhile, are prone to taking a principled stand and are more willing to fight back. In recent years, Apple has taken this approach with greater frequency. What’s more, Apple now appears to be embracing a more pro-active approach wherein they’re bringing the fight to patent trolls directly.
Initially brought to light by Reuters, Apple and Intel recently joined forces to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group, a firm that happens to be owned by SoftBank.
The complaint is rather straight forward, which is to say Apple and Intel lay out how the sole purpose for Fortress Investment Group’s existence is to blindly wield its patent portfolio in the hopes of securing a big score from a cash-heavy tech company. It’s worth noting that the Fortress Investment Group — like every patent troll — has no shipping product or service to speak of.
The complaint argues that the Fortress Investment Group engages in anti-competitive behavior to the extent that it accumulates patents as a means to extort other companies.
Reuters adds that “Fortress had filed at least 25 lawsuits against the iPhone maker demanding $2.6 billion to $5.1 billion in damages.” In some suits, Fortress has argued that it’s entitled to as much as $2.75 for every iPhone sold.
The complaint reads in part:
Fortress and its PAEs seek to use that ill-gotten power to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anticompetitively from Intel, Apple, and other suppliers of electronic devices or components or software for such devices and ultimately from consumers of those products. Fortress’s aggregation is thus intended for an anticompetitive purpose—to invest in patents at costs lower than the holdup value of the patents to ensnare as many potential licensees as possible and to allow it and the other Defendants to assert as many possible claims of infringement to tax the commercial use of existing technology at rates beyond the actual value (if any) of the aggregated patents.
Apple and Intel further add that they’ve both been forced to spend a lot of money responding to and dealing with “serial nuisance suits.”
As part of the suit, Apple and Intel seek to recover damages incurred from their patent fights with Fortress Investment Group, attorneys fees, and a declaration that all of the patents referenced in the complaint be categorized as unenforceable.