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Intel sues SoftBank unit Fortress Investment over patent practices

Intel Corp. sued Fortress Investment Group LLC over claims that the private equity firm accumulated patents to hold up tech companies through lawsuits.

The tech giant claimed that SoftBank Group Corp.-owned Fortress and its "patent assertion entities" used their "ill-gotten power" to force suppliers of electronic device components and software to "pay undeserved and inflated royalties," according to the complaint filed with a U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose.

Intel said a Fortress-related entity filed a string of lawsuits against the chipmaker in California and Delaware from 2017 to 2019. The suits alleged that almost all of Intel's chips made since 2011 infringed patents that the entity acquired from NXP Semiconductors NV. The entity was working to "monetize" the former NXP patents, according to Intel.

"Fortress' aggregation is intended for an anticompetitive purpose — to invest in patents at costs lower than the holdup value of the patents," Intel said in its suit.

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank acquired Fortress Investment in 2017 for about $3.3 billion in cash.