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Intel faces battle with foreign-backed patent trolls

by on13 June 2024

Gaming the system

Chipzilla is entangled in “patent troll” legal cases with the trolls backed by third-party financiers or owned by hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and other sophisticated investors.

Writing in The Columbus Dispatch, Patrick Tiberi, CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, said that while semiconductors were invented in America, the US now produces just 12 per cent of the world’s chips and few of the most advanced ones, leaving us reliant on overseas manufacturing and vulnerable to supply chain and security risks.

He sid that Intel has faced repeated patent infringement lawsuits from VLSI Technology, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group, which is owned by a sovereign investor in the United Arab Emirates.

 VLSI was initially awarded over $2 billion in damages for lawsuits against Intel. Some of the verdicts have been overturned, and VLSI’s patents in that case have now been declared invalid.

Tiberi said that Intel has spent years and considerable resources defending itself against these frivolous legal attacks.

“ While a major American corporation is investing capital and taxpayer funds into a national strategic initiative, foreign sovereign wealth funds are attempting to profit from lawsuits instigated by patent trolls against the very same company,” Tiberi said.

He said that more than half of all U.S. patent lawsuits are initiated by patent trolls, with at least 30 per cent of patent cases receiving third-party funding.

“There are growing concerns that foreign competitors are influencing our judicial system after a recent investigation uncovered that Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin funded U.S. litigation to evade sanctions and an investment entity based in China is funding patent litigation in U.S. courts,” Tiberi said.

He said that the current patent system was broken with American businesses are targeted by patent trolls—foreign and domestic—without knowing who is behind them. We need to know who holds the purse strings to stop these predatory attacks.

Tiberi thinks that enhancing transparency can be achieved through several avenues.

Courts can mandate disclosure in cases within their jurisdiction. For example, the Chief Judge in Delaware’s federal district court introduced mandatory transparency in 2022, prompting some shell companies to withdraw their cases rather than comply.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets federal court policy, could also require transparency in litigation investments for all cases.

Tiberi said that bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress last year would require disclosure from any foreign entity involved as a third-party funder in U.S. federal courts. Several states have passed similar bills, and others are considering them.

This basic transparency is critical to ending legal meddling and revealing a national security blind spot, as funders would no longer be able to operate unnoticed. We cannot continue to be left in the dark about who is influencing our judicial system, especially foreign actors bringing lawsuits to harm American businesses.

Last modified on 13 June 2024
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