Boston University Files “Bombshell” Lawsuit Against Apple

Boston-University

Suing Apple for patent infringement is so de rigeur right now that even colleges are getting in on the action: Boston University has just sued Apple for infringing upon one of their 1997 patents.

According to The Boston Herald, a new “bombshell” lawsuit filed yesterday in the Massachusetts District Court claims that Apple is infringing upon a patent held by professor Theodor Moustakas hearkening from back in 1997 for a small electronic component.

At stake is a bonanza of cash, thanks to Apple’s habit of breaking sales records left and right. The company sold its 100 millionth iPad last year, and 55 million iPhone 5 units alone were reportedly sold as of May.

BU has filed a total of eight identical claims against smaller manufacturers and device-makers as well as two other high-profile companies, Samsung and Amazon, in the past year.

At least one other company currently licenses the patent from Boston University, so B.U. has an actual case. And some analysts and experts think that Boston University could walk away with at least $75 million. But pay day won’t come quick: Cupertino could easily keep the lawsuit tied up for years.

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  • mknopp

    Is the company that licenses this technology a semiconductor manufacturing company? Because, from what I gather this is a patent on a technology used to manufacture semiconductors, which Apple does not do. It uses semiconductors, but it doesn’t make them. I don’t see how this can be viable unless Apple told their manufacturers to use the technology and agreed to pay the licensing fee but then didn’t.

  • rwmcgrann

    I surprised more universities haven’t jumped on the patent troll band wagon sooner. Any school with a decent tech college should have multiple patents it could use to sue these companies and earn a nice little settlement. It’s probably easier than getting donations from Alumni.

  • kidpub

    Probably some graduate law student’s thesis project.

  • jpaul

    Hmm… time for John Sculley to sue all the TV manufacturers as he came up with that idea before they did. Plus, his knowledge navigator predates the iPad by over a decade. Apple should give him at least .1% of iPad sales. And there’s Arthur C. Clarke whose heirs should lay claim to all the revenues anyone gets from satellite communications network.

    I believe strongly in protecting intellectual property– but 16 years later–and only after Apple has so much $$??!! That’s telling.

    Oh, and back in 1974, I came with the idea of the Internet.

  • Adrayven

    Is the company that licenses this technology a semiconductor manufacturing company? Because, from what I gather this is a patent on a technology used to manufacture semiconductors, which Apple does not do. It uses semiconductors, but it doesn’t make them. I don’t see how this can be viable unless Apple told their manufacturers to use the technology and agreed to pay the licensing fee but then didn’t.

    It’s a name/brand thing.. if Apple uses components manufactured by said semiconductor company that uses the process, they try to grab headlines making the ‘beneficiary’ of the end component pay. Doesn’t always work.. In theory, any fee’s should have been covered under agreement with the semiconductor maker.. so will see who pays..

    Right now, I’d say it’s done what they want.. grab headlines.. if they put pressure on Apple, .. Apple might put pressure on those who sold them said semiconductor which might get a payout that way..

  • ErinsDad

    BU lawsuit over inventing Beer Pong cannot be far behind.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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