Intel filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress, a company owned by SoftBank Group Corp., which owns more than 1,000 technology patents. Intel argued that Fortress used its stockpile of patents to launch lawsuits against Intel, as well as other technology companies.
According to Intel, Fortress alleges that virtually all of Intel’s processors from 2011 and newer infringe on the patents Fortress previously acquired from NXP Semiconductors:
“One way in which Fortress has tried to turn around its performance and justify SoftBank’s investment in it is through increased speculation on patent assertions.
Intel brings this complaint to end a campaign of anticompetitive patent aggregation by Fortress and a web of (patent assertion entities) that Fortress owns or controls.”
Intel seems to argue Fortress has been stockpiling patents that could later be used against other companies, while betting that those companies would choose to pay up instead of challenging the patents in court:
“Fortress’ aggregation is intended for an anticompetitive purpose—to invest in patents at costs lower than the holdup value of the patents.”
SoftBank bought Arm, an Intel competitor, in 2016, a year before it also acquired Fortress. SoftBank would benefit both from having Intel pay royalties for Fortress’ patents, as well as from slowing down Intel’s CPU development, as Intel attempts to avoid infringing on Fortress’ patents.
However, Intel doesn’t seem willing to pay for those patents without at least testing them in court first. SoftBank hasn’t yet made an official statement about Intel’s lawsuit.