Boston University Sues Apple For Patent Infringement
July 4, 2013

Boston University Sues Apple For Patent Infringement

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Boston University (BU) has sued Apple Inc., alleging the iPhone 5, iPad and MacBook Air use a semiconductor device that one of its professors received a patent for in 1997.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in a Massachusetts federal court, the trustees of BU said Apple was illegally using the patent, which covers a method of making thin gallium nitride film semiconductors that can produce blue lasers economically and compactly.

Professor Theodore Moustakas applied for the patent in 1995, which is set to expire in 2015.

In the complaint, BU's trustees said the three Apple products contain a "gallium nitride thin film semiconductor device" that is still under patent protection.

The suit does not precisely describe how Apple is using the patented method, but gallium nitrate films often end up in LED displays.

BU is asking the court to prohibit Apple from selling some of its products, and is seeking a portion of the company's profits.

"[Apple's] acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable damage to the University," BU said in its suit.

While asking the court for an injunction to stop Apple from selling some of its products may sound extreme, this request appears in nearly every patent infringement "prayer for relief."

Ultimately, an injunction will probably not be pursued or granted, since BU doesn't claim to be using the patent, and can not likely say it would be gaining a competitive advantage by keeping it to itself.

Apple could either fight the suit or quietly settle since the patent will expire at the end of next year.

The full complaint can be viewed here.