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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 29 2019, @10:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
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.


Original Submission

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Nvidia Considering Acquisition of ARM for Over $32 Billion 38 comments

Nvidia is reportedly in 'advanced talks' to buy ARM for more than $32 billion

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.

Also at Guru3D and Wccftech.

Previously:
(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


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by coolgopher on Tuesday October 29 2019, @11:45AM (12 children)

    by coolgopher (1157) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @11:45AM (#913231)

    It's not often I agree with Intel, especially in this area, but in this case I wish them success. Litigation-only patent holders should not be allowed imo. Either you use your patents to build and sell stuff, or you get out of the way to let others get on with it. Anything else is unreasonably damaging the economy.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday October 29 2019, @12:23PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @12:23PM (#913239)

      It's not often that I agree with IP enforcers of any kind, but:

      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.

      Transforming weak, otherwise unenforceable IP into valid and valuable IP is the whole point of synergistic IP development whether via R&D or acquisition. A web of mutually supportive patents makes megacorps like Intel powerful in the IP space. To me, this sounds like Intel calling "I've got mine, now you f-off and die."

      --
      My karma ran over your dogma.
    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by EJ on Tuesday October 29 2019, @12:55PM (10 children)

      by EJ (2452) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @12:55PM (#913246)

      If I take a look at one of Intel's products, then I have an epiphany of a novel way to make that product better, then my invention has merit. I should be able to sell/license that invention to Intel even though I am not in the business of building CPUs.

      Take a look at the guy who invented intermittent windshield wipers. He got royally f-ed over by all the car manufacturers for his perfectly novel invention.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29 2019, @01:24PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 29 2019, @01:24PM (#913256)

        "He got royally f-ed over by all the car manufacturers for his perfectly novel invention."
        Until he won, because he actually had a case.

        This isn't about a little guy who is willing to risk all and take on a big.

        This is about a big who is playing heads I win, tails you lose.
        If it can be proven that Fortress or maybe even Softbank is pulling the strings, then perhaps this will pierce their corporate veil and expose them to potential loss.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:25AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:25AM (#913595)

          So he started suing in 1978, finally finished in 1995, - seventeen years later - and only got that far because he had $10 million to spend in legal fees, for a win of $30 million.
          His marriage broke up due to the stress, and he died of brain cancer a few years later.

          Sounds like a win to me. /sarcasm.

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Tuesday October 29 2019, @03:30PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @03:30PM (#913291)

        Litigation-only patent holders should not be allowed imo. Either you use your patents to build and sell stuff

        If I take a look at one of Intel's products, then I have an epiphany of a novel way to make that product better, then my invention has merit. I should be able to sell/license that invention to Intel even though I am not in the business of building CPUs.

        Are you posting this to disagree? In your example, you aren't litigating, and parent explicitly said you should be able to sell your stuff.

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday October 29 2019, @03:39PM (4 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @03:39PM (#913296)

        In reality (including the courts) patents are not a legal structure to reward clever people for articulating an idea, they are a legal structure to protect investment in development of ideas into actual marketable goods.

        Naive superficial reading of the patent code would lead one to believe "all you need is an idea and a filing" - but in reality it is much more than that. If your idea is disconnected from the mechanisms required to bring the idea to market, all your patent is doing is obstructing those who could practice the idea, especially those who could practice the idea efficiently, from doing so without compensating you on your terms.

        StopSaw is an interesting case where the inventor has a great idea, and has even brought a product to market, but at a pricepoint 20x higher than the non-stopping equivalent product, and likely 5x higher than a "real" saw manufacturer could market the function, but the inventor's concept of what his idea is worth is keeping this technology at a pricepoint 5x higher (and thus much less widely used) while he "negotiates with industry" about the value of his IP.

        Certainly there are tragedies of large companies ignoring IP until the little guy patent holder's rights expire, and this is one of the great evils of large defacto monopolies / monopolistically acting cartels - just too big to be bothered with the hassle and their so called competition is unlikely to gain significant market share by licensing the IP, so why should they?

        --
        My karma ran over your dogma.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by deimtee on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:35AM (3 children)

          by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @04:35AM (#913597) Journal

          That StopSaw is amazing. Even more amazing were the people complaining about it. It has to be so fast that every time it activates and stops you chopping a finger off it destroys the brake block and the blade, for a cost of about $70.

          There were legions of idiots complaining about that, saying that $70 was too expensive. I'm sure that re-attaching a couple of fingers is cheaper and easier.

          --
          No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:31PM (2 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @01:31PM (#913684)

            I knew about the Stop Saw, but didn't have the room in the garage for it - used a lightweight, compact table saw instead.

            Out of pocket costs for a minimal fingertip bone cut: $5K. Stop Saw price: $2500.

            For me, it's not about the money.

            Real cost of the cut: (minor) lifetime pain and minimal disability due to missing 2mm of thumb tip. Plus approximately 120 hours spent in various appointments, surgeries, therapies, etc. over the course of 3 months. Got to meet lots of other table saw victims, all with worse injuries than mine.

            Real cost of the Stop Saw: it would take up twice as much space in the garage as my compact table saw that I still have and use. With 120 hours of remedial education, I think I can avoid a 2nd accident.

            --
            My karma ran over your dogma.
            • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:11PM (1 child)

              by deimtee (3272) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:11PM (#913731) Journal

              Ouch.
              I don't have the StopSaw either, but I am careful with the power tools I have (a Triton system). One of the best wakeup calls I ever got was one day when I was wearing safety glasses while using a jigsaw. It bound in the cut, twisted slightly and half a blade left a crater in the glasses directly in front of my right eye. Long time ago, but some things make an impression. I never cut without safety glasses.

              From what I remember the guy was trying to sell StopSaw to schools, but all the schools here have stopped woodwork and metalwork classes anyway.

              --
              No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:48PM

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday October 30 2019, @03:48PM (#913756)

                I blame my safety glasses, along with a half dozen other factors, for my cut injury.

                Don't cut when you're tired.

                Don't cut when you're angry.

                Don't cut when you're tired and angry and it's getting dark.

                Don't cut when ... and you've only recently started to lose your "reading vision".

                Don't cut when ... and your safety glasses are foggy, but that's hard to tell because of reduced vision in the twilight.

                Don't cut when ... and the blade is set for 1.5" thick wood, but you're making 3/4" thick pieces to fit in window tracks.

                Don't cut when ... and you're frustrated because it's the third trip back to the saw to get the piece to fit properly.

                And, the only one that really matters:

                Don't cut when ... and your thumbtip is going to catch the blade as you push the piece through.

                Had just gotten home from work and the kids were having a party opening the porch windows and pushing out the screens so they could go run around outside, never did finish making the blocks for the window tracks, and didn't have to... hours spent sitting in the car while Dad was in the emergency room / surgery / therapy appointments seemed to get the message across.

                --
                My karma ran over your dogma.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Nuke on Tuesday October 29 2019, @07:57PM (1 child)

        by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @07:57PM (#913399)

        Take a look at the guy who invented intermittent windshield wipers. He got royally f-ed over by all the car manufacturers for his perfectly novel invention.

        When was that? I devised and made an intermittent wiper device for my car in 1970. I had never seen the idea anywhere else, but it seemed an obvious consequence of being fed up with turning the wipers on and off briefly during light rain. I think the whole idea of patents is ridiculous.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday October 29 2019, @01:24PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Tuesday October 29 2019, @01:24PM (#913255) Journal

    For those tempted to side with Intel on this, remember that they are one of the megacorps who all worked for extreme Intellectual Property law, It wasn't a coordinated effort, no. But they all share a belief in ownership and control. They're also two-faced on this, wanting owmership when they're asserting it, and not wanting ownership when someone is asserting it against them. They have fought to forbid AMD and others from making x86 compatible CPUs.

    Intel even tried to assert ownership over a number, "80586". The courts told them no. And so today, we have the "Pentium" brand name instead.

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