from the unfortunate-name dept.
Intel is taking legal action against a spider's web of patent holders from SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment Group and its network of subsidiaries.
The Japanese megacorp bought the group for $3.3bn in late 2017, and Chipzilla claims Fortress has become more aggressive in an effort to justify its sales price to its new owners.
Intel is suing the company under the Sherman and Clayton antitrust acts to "prevent and restrain Defendants' anticompetitive conduct".
Intel argues in court documents (PDF) that Fortress is asserting patent rights that would not have been considered enforceable by their original owners.
The documents also claim that Fortress has no interest in licensing these patents in the normal way, but prefers to boost the value of its patent portfolio by linking worthless patents with valuable ones.
This war chest of aggregated patents, Intel alleges, allows Fortress to bring case after case against a company until it folds or pays well over the market value for the intellectual property held to stop the litigation.
This strategy, Intel claims, makes it more likely that weak or unenforceable patents are found to be valid in the courts because they are aggregated with patents that may have some merit. It also gives Fortress the opportunity to gain sets of patents that could provide alternatives to each other, which damages competition in the same way that a merger of competing companies can.
SoftBank has been rumored to be exploring a sale of ARM — the British chip designer that powers nearly every major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei — and now, it might have found a buyer. Nvidia is reportedly in "advanced talks" to buy ARM in a deal worth over $32 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Nvidia is said to be the only company that's involved in concrete discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at this time, and a deal could arrive "in the next few weeks," although nothing is finalized yet. If the deal does go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever in the computer chip business and would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny.
(2020-07-12) Apple Has Built its Own Mac Graphics Processors
(2020-07-11) Nvidia's Market Cap Rises Above Intel's
(2020-06-11) ARM Faces a Boardroom Revolt as it Seeks to Remove the CEO of Its Chinese Joint Venture
(2019-10-29) Fed Up Of Playing Whac-A-Mole With Network Of Softbank-Owned Patent Holders, Intel Goes To Court