Tuesday, March 9, 2021

In aftermath of $2.2B verdict, Apple and Intel file 161-page overhauled antitrust complaint against Softbank-owned patent litigation funder Fortress, others

Apple and Intel just threw a book at Softbank's patent assertion conglomerate Fortress Investment. Not literally, but what I meant by book is a 161-page complaint with a 17-page table as its Exhibit A. That voluminous monster of a filing--talk about a battle of materiel--had been scheduled a while ago and now happens to come on the heels of

Let's put it that way: either complainant got slapped last week. But they keep on fighting, and in the Fortress context I'm glad Apple doesn't cede an inch (an Apple trait that left me no choice but to root for the app store liberation movement started by Spotify and Epic Games).

This second amended complaint is already the fourth in total--originally Intel had filed a complaint alone (#1), which it withdrew only to refile an extended version with Apple (#2), which was amended last year (#3), only for the judge to send them back to the drawing board and present the latest (#4) version along with an exhibit (this post continues below the documents):

21-03-08 Redacted Version o... by Florian Mueller

21-03-08 Redacted Version o... by Florian Mueller

I'm not in a position to offer much commentary--the thing was just filed a few hours ago, and there's so much else going on. But I did run a full-text search for any references to last week's record verdict and found this passage:

"Indeed, it is a core component of Fortress’s anticompetitive scheme to aggressively seek and to obtain such supracompetitive royalties after aggregating patents. Reflecting the seriousness with which Intel takes damage demands, it has disclosed to investors in its securities filings VLSI's damages demands in various cases. Recently, VLSI was awarded $2.175 billion in damages against Intel based on a jury’s finding that Intel infringed two VLSI patents. Although Intel denies that it infringes and that the damages award is proper (and the decision remains subject to appeal), the jury awarded VLSI close to what it sought from Intel, demonstrating that damages demands are not just requests."

I understand the point Intel and Apple want to make there: those exorbitant demands can materialize in the form of damages awards. However, the second paragraph of the complaint says "Defendants [...] aggressively pursue meritless litigation have long been recognized to harm and deter innovation," and Fortress will be sure to counter this by pointing to its (non-final and hopefully never final) victory in Texas.

I'll write about the legal theories and factual allegations in the second amended complaint on another occasion. I just wanted to be of service to my readership and put out the documents quickly.

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