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Details You're Not Supposed To See From Boston U's Patent Settlements 130

Posted by timothy
from the those-lights-can-be-infuriating-at-night dept.
curtwoodward (2147628) writes "In January, Boston University settled lawsuits against two dozen big technology companies for allegedly using its patented blue LED technology without permission. But apparently, the school's lawyers were a little too forthcoming for everyone's tastes — they recently asked a federal judge to delete a court filing that spelled out all of the companies who settled. Luckily, we still had the unredacted version, which shows that Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Motorola and many more are on the list, even if they don't want you to know it."
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Details You're Not Supposed To See From Boston U's Patent Settlements

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  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:25PM (#46651013)

    Blame the Bayh–Dole Act [wikipedia.org]. When it was passed, it seemed to make sense. It had wide support - Bayh and Dole were on very opposite sides of the aisle. In practice it's meant that universities are more worried about protecting their "intellectual property" than about publishing and disseminating research results. For that reason a lot of academic researchers are unhappy about it too. It's time to take what turned out to be a bad ides and ditch it. Universities shouldn't be run the way for-profit companies are.

  • Apple, Microsoft, Dell, BlackBerry, Nokia, etc. don't make LED's, they buy them . Hence they're customers. Does this mean that the absurd idea of suing customers in addition to manufacturers has been accepted? Patent trolling is bad, but this is just plain nuts.

    Patents give the owner an exclusive right to make, sell, import, or use an invention. While customers aren't making, selling, or (sometimes) importing the product, they are using it.

    Now, that said, various exhaustion and indemnification rights may exist. In fact, frequently what happens is the patent owner sues a customer, the customer brings in the manufacturer as a third party defendant under rule 14, and then the customer walks away and the manufacturer and patent owner hash things out. Same thing occurs when there's a car accident - I sue you, you bring in your insurance company, and then I and your insurance company figure it out. I can't sue them directly, because I have no privity of contract with them or grounds for suit against them.

    This isn't anything to do with trolling - this is just a standard thing for when A has a cause of action against B, and B has a defense by way of C.

  • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:42PM (#46651187)

    Say what? Exactly who are Apple, etc, customers of? Certainly not BU. And what do Apple, et al do with those LEDs? They import them into the US, then they sell them. And here is what the US Patent law says: Whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term the patent therefor, infringes the patent. You know how long that statement has been in patent law? Since Thomas Jefferson wrote it.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @02:06PM (#46651453)

    Federal money comes with restrictions, but there are limits to the control that buys the feds.

    Before the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, the restriction was that patents that came from federally funded research had to be assigned to the feds. Worked fine. Repeal Bayh-Dole and it will work again. If BU or any other school doesn't like it, they can refuse to accept federal funding. What option do you think they'll choose?

  • by mjr167 (2477430) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @05:06PM (#46653709)

    One of my coworkers is teaching a class at the local university. They are paying him $6000 for the semester. He has 30 students, each student pays the uni $2600 to take the class so the uni got $78,000 in tuition for this one class and had to pay the professor $6000. Where do you think the money goes?

    It's an online class. There is no lab equipment, no building fee...

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