Apple and Intel, whose names have recently been juxtaposed regarding the acquisition of the modem division by the former with respect to the latter, are preparing to make a common front against a very particular patent troll. Usually this role is played by small anonymous companies, which accumulate a fair number of patents and then hit the giants in their respective sectors with more or less due claims for compensation, at least from an ethical point of view. The turnover of a patent troll is limited to this, but the case that Intel and Apple brought to the attention of one of the main California courts is profoundly different.
In this round, in fact, the company accused of this behavior – which violates US antitrust rules it belongs to none other than the Japanese group SoftBank, certainly not just any small company. Apple and Intel have filed lawsuits against the Fortress Investment Group, who is accused of exploiting the huge portfolio of patents controlled by the group and by other companies related to it for the sole purpose of suing companies in the technological world.
Intel had already decided to proceed against Fortress last October, but later chose to withdraw that accusation to present a joint with Apple. The Cupertino house has been sued by Fortress on 25 occasions, with a request of total compensation ranging between 2.6 and 5.1 billion dollars. Among the disputed patents, there would be one related to the step counting system performed by the native apps on Apple devices.
As mentioned above, Fortress also counts on patents held by other companies related to the group and two of these (Uniloc USA and Uniloc Luxembourg) have sued Apple asking for compensation ranging between 1.41 and 2.75 dollars per each Apple product sold (it is not clear which specific category and in relation to which time frame), for a total included between 375 and 732 million dollars.
These numbers so precise, Apple points out in the papers submitted to the California court, are suspect, as these are the same identical figures that the Cupertino company had requested from Samsung in a previous dispute concerning other patents. We therefore look forward to discovering how the story will evolve over the coming months.