Apple and Intel may have to rethink their lawsuit accusing Fortress Investment Group of running an anti-competitive patent aggregation scheme. Yesterday a California federal judge said in oral arguments that while their allegations seem conceptually sound, their market definition is lacking, according to Law360 (a subscription is required to read the entire article.)
Fortress is a company backed by SoftBank. Apple and Intel claim the group stockpiled patents to hold up tech firms with lawsuits demanding as much as $5.1 billion.
The tech giants 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. Some folks would consider Fortress a “patent troll.”
“Apple has suffered economic harm in the form of litigation costs and diversion of resources away from innovation to respond to these entities’ serial nuisance suits,” Apple wrote in the complaint.
By the way, a patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent.