Boston University Sues Apple For Alleged Patent Infringement

07/03/2013 05:09 pm ET | Updated Jul 03, 2013
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Boston University wants Apple to stop selling iPhones to its students, and everyone else for that matter, alleging that the company is stealing a two-decade-old idea from one of the school's professors.

A complaint filed by the university's trustees Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts claims a component in Apple's iPhone 5, iPads and MacBook Air rips off a patent filed by a BU professor in the 1990s, the Boston Herald reports. The lawsuit requests that Apple halt its sale of those products, due to the allegedly violating the patent rights.

Gigaom explains where Apple allegedly ripped off a professor's idea:

The trustees of BU say the Apple products contain a “gallium nitride thin film semiconductor device” that is still under patent protection. Professor Theodore Moustakas applied for the patent in 1995, which means it is set to expire in 2015. Here’s an image from the patent, which describes the use of nitrogen to prepare a type of film that is “a potential source of inexpensive and compact solid-state blue lasers:”

The university declined to comment to The Huffington Post, saying through a spokesman "the complaint speaks for itself."

The complaint says Apple's alleged infringements "have caused and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable damage to the University," and it requests a jury trial. BU is not currently naming any specific amount of damages, but tech analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates told the Boston Herald that BU stands to net $75 million in a possible settlement or verdict.

BU is also suing Amazon.com Inc., Samsung and other technology companies over the same patent issue, the Boston Globe reports.

Apple has been hit with a number of patent lawsuits, not least of which was one by so-called patent troll Jim Logan over the ability to make a playlist.

Read the complaint filed by Boston University against Apple, Inc.:

Trustees of Boston University v. Apple

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