Apple sues Israeli spyware maker NSO Group for $500m

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption An NSO agent feeds information from an Android phone to the government

Technology company Apple has reportedly sued Israeli spyware maker NSO Group for infringing its patented technology and raising prices.

Apple said it sought damages of $500m (65m euros, £50m) plus interest and legal fees from the company.

NSO Group does not appear to have responded publicly yet, though it did disclose the lawsuit in a regulatory filing.

It said the complaint came from a company it classifies as “intervention” rather than a “customer”

IPC Media (Aegis) would not comment directly on the lawsuit, saying only that it was “investigating the matter”.

A group of iPhone owners that has contributed to the lawsuit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Discovery report

In November last year, investigations firm HKScan said it had uncovered evidence of Israeli spyware being installed on as many as 6,500 Apple mobile devices over the last five years.

The investigation also claimed that NSO Group sold mobile phone surveillance software called Pegasus to a number of countries, including the US and the UK.

In its lawsuit, Apple accused NSO Group of trademark and design infringements, unfair competition and fraudulent trade practices.

The lawsuit said Apple has reached agreements with several other large electronics firms such as Samsung and Huawei about using its patented technology, “but instead Defendants are using the plaintiff’s patents for conduct which interferes with Apple’s business”.

According to the documents, Apple is seeking damages “adequate to satisfy the damages awarded by a jury, but less than $1bn to fully deter Defendants, deter developers of other infringing products, and deter others from engaging in the same conduct”.

It is also seeking an injunction against selling products with the infringed technology, warning that if a similar product is sold in the future, “Apple will oppose that sale with the same vigour it pursues sales of the infringing products now”.

In its statement released on Tuesday, NSO Group said: “The complaint filed by Apple does not reflect our understanding of the relationship between us and our customers.

“We believe Apple’s allegations are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against this action.”

The legal action comes as NSO Group prepares to go public with its information on UK government agencies’ use of spyware, having struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to boost its financial profile in the region.

The Telegraph newspaper has reported that NSO Group is in talks with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to sell the company up to $1bn (£700m).

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