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Education Patents Technology

Boston U. Patent Lawsuits Hit Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Others 147

Posted by timothy
from the can't-say-a-lightbulb-went-off-in-their-heads dept.
curtwoodward writes "First, we heard that Boston University — a private, four-year school overshadowed by neighbors like MIT and Harvard — was suing Apple for patent infringement. Well, sure, patent lawsuits in tech are an everyday thing, right? But it turns out this is not a one-off: BU has been quietly filing a barrage of patent lawsuits since last fall, all of them revolving around the same patents for LED and semiconductor technology. And the targets run the gamut, from Apple and Amazon to Samsung and several small companies that distribute or sell LEDs and other equipment. A couple of small guys have settled, but Amazon and Samsung are refusing. Still to come: Apple's response."
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Boston U. Patent Lawsuits Hit Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Others

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @07:44PM (#44183693)

    On the surface this sounds like patents which relate to semiconductor physics and process technologies.

    This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for! They're not goofy/obvious/stupid software patents - they are extremely complicated and non-trivial processes.

    This isn't a "rounded corners" case and doesn't look like a patent troll.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @08:43PM (#44184195)

    This is _exactly_ the kind of thing the patent system was designed for! They're not goofy/obvious/stupid software patents - they are extremely complicated and non-trivial processes.

    So how are all these companies using this technology? I can see three scenarios:

    1) They figured the processes out themselves, from scratch, despite them being complex and non-trivial. Complexity and non-triviality don't make something patentable; the standard is non-obvious to a person skilled in the art. If multiple other parties developed it from scratch, it is obvious to a person skilled in the art, hence the person is invalid, and the case trolling.

    2) All these companies accessed the patent in order to develop their process, but didn't pay for it. This could be the result of a license dispute, or just outright douchery. In this case, the case is legitimate.

    3) A manufacturer either performed point 1 or point 2, and is a common supplier to the targets. In this case, the patent holder should have gone after that manufacturer; using a scatter-gun approach to target end-users is abusive, just as much as the people who send threatening letters to small companies using fax machines. In this case, they may have a legitimate case against the original manufacturer, but their cases against the retailers are illegitimate.

    It sounds like #3 is the most likely

  • it's troll worthy. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @09:14PM (#44184453)

    They filed it in 1995, it was published in 1997. Its going to expire in the next few years.

    They're claiming they invented GaN LED's.

    If they weren't being a troll about it, they would have been sueing 10+ years ago, not two years before it expires.

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