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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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:00PM (#46650739)

    Universities should serve the public good. Anything created there should go into the public commons and be available to anybody and everybody to use. When you make the choice to be, or work at, a university you trade profit for service. If you can't accept that, then work somewhere else, or be some other type of an institution than a university.

    • by brainboyz (114458) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:05PM (#46650795) Homepage

      Agreed, double dipping on "private" profits and public funds seems a little...what do they always call the private sector?...Oh yeah, greedy.

    • by alen (225700)

      yeah, now who is going to pay for all that lab equipment, the scholarships for all the kids to work in the lab, salaries for people to work in the lab

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:08PM (#46650827)

        students and alumni?

        or, has the model of 'students pay to atten' no longer enough to keep the uni's afloat?

        given how much textbooks cost these days, you'd think they'd all be rolling in money and not need to sue companies.

        then again, any time a company of large size is sued, god saves the life of a puppy. so there's that going for it; which is nice.

        • Tuition increases are being absorbed by growth of non-teaching positions, not by better professor salaries or lab equipment.

        • by alen (225700)

          yeah, and everyone is saying how expensive tuition is these days and how people are graduating with too much debt

        • has the model of 'students pay to attend' no longer enough to keep the uni's afloat?

          It hasn't been enough in many years, at least here in the US for research funding. There is loads of federal funding for research, and sometimes from companies and foundations. That's fine by me, but universities using "intellectual property" is exactly the opposite of what they should do.

          P.S. What country are you from? "Uni's" isn't American slang, so I'd guess it's not the US. I ask because I'm curious what the situation is in your country.

        • Research scientists are not usually the same people who teach college classes. Their research is funded by grants and licensing revenue NOT tuition. Tuition is used toward the education of the student.

          Performing research and furthering science is a mission of a university.

          • 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...

            • by infinitelink (963279) on Friday April 04, 2014 @12:26AM (#46657995) Homepage Journal
              It goes to administration, which like HR professionals always expands its own class, hence pay and lobbying power, hence tentacles through a system, and then repeat. Give all a raise--and throw-in tenured profs (especially those with admin privilges themselves) for good measure, and repeat again.

              To adapt Reagan's motto: "defund the [administrative class]."
            • Administrative fees, Utilities, Facility Maintenance, I.T. Expenses, Employee Benefits, Liability Insurance, Incidentals, etc.

              There are other people involved in teaching that class other than your coworker.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Textbooks aren't sold by universities. At least not by my university.
          My university supplies a list of books required for each course.
          The students have the choice of buying it from the student organizations (who sell for very little profit), or buying it from amazon or something.
          Student tuition covers the lectures and exams and time for professors to teach.
          All the other stuff is paid for by grants and collaborations with companies.
          The other stuff is the stuff that universities are actually known for. You kno

          • by HybridST (894157)

            To counter your anecdote my University *does* sell textbooks. I've bought lab manuals the-day-of when I forgot them before my commute.

            • Perhaps, but at the University of Washington, textbooks are sold by the Alumni Association, and have been since they founded the UW Bookstore back about 100 years ago.

              Most of what students think of as "the University selling me books" is actually something a student association or other non-profit organization does, at most Universities.

        • by Pigeon451 (958201)

          You obviously have no idea how research at a University works. The money from students, etc. goes to running the school. The vast majority of funds for "research" is acquired through grants and collaborations by faculty, many of which have value in the millions. The school provides the infrastructure, and graduate students. Undergrad students may work in the lab, but they do not really contribute to novel research.

          Also blame the textbook costs on the publishers, not schools and requiring new books each year

        • by jythie (914043)
          Keep in mind, the money does not just go into one simple pot and then departments pull back out. Student tuition goes to pay for things related to teaching students. Money for research comes out of grants and patents/licenses. There is going to be some overlap, but not as much as you might think. In fact often the research budget helps keep tuition costs down.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        The rich dead guy's estate who's name is on the building the equipment resides in.

    • When you start your own university, you will get to make the rules. Until then; they have given your thoughts all due consideration, even though they've never read them.

    • I disagree. A better method may be to use the profits for lowering educational fees for students or developing more research, instead of accepting tax payer money. However, I would like to see scientific papers released for free.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      BU is a private university. I see your point for public universities, but a private entity should be able to do what it wishes in this regard.

      • Are you referring to the type of public entity that is tax exempt and gets lots of federal funds? Drop that and maybe you have a point.

        • A non-profit is not tax exempt. Federal money comes with restrictions, but there are limits to the control that buys the feds. There are already schools that won't let you use any federal aid for tuition because of the baggage that comes with the money. Granting they are, at this point, really nutty religious schools.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ebno-10db (1459097)

            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 gnupun (752725)

        BU is a private university. I see your point for public universities, but a private entity should be able to do what it wishes in this regard.

        But what about the grad/phd students who actually invented this stuff? Do they see even a penny of this settlement? I don't think all the lab equipment and tools in the world is worth 100% of the patent rights going to the university.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It depends on University policy. My name is on a patent developed at a university while I was a student and part of my contract grants me a portion of any procedes that might come from it. Some universities are less generous.

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Silas is back (765580)
      When Universities invent something, like blue LEDs, and put it out there "for free", it doesn't serve the public good. What it will serve is the large companies who need the technology and now get it for free, paid for by taxpayer money. The University gets nothing from the invention, the students don't get to profit from lower tuition fees (no, tuition fees are by far not enough to cover a University's expenses) and the public good gets nothing else than to pay taxes and the possibility to build a company
      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:05PM (#46652027)

        Oh please, what a load of crap. Yes, large companies will get the tech for free (though they'll only get the very basics, they'll still have to develop manufacturing techniques, which the university research isn't going to help them with that much). But it's not just one company, it's ALL companies that have a desire to use this tech. And then the rest of society benefits from having the knowledge, and the technology cheaply available since all competitors now have it.

        It's no different than open-source software. Having it out there enriches everyone, even when big companies use it for their own purposes, or build products based on it. It advances the state of the art faster, increases quality, and reduces costs (resulting in reduced prices to end-users). You really think we'd be better off if all our consumer routers and various other devices had to pay $$$ for VxWorks licenses rather than having Linux and BSD available for free?

        The University gets recognition for their invention.

        and the possibility to build a company assembling blue LEDs without having to worry about patents. Well, I guess that's something.

        That's a very big something; it's the whole idea. Patented tech with high license fees doesn't benefit us as much as freely-available tech.

        • It's VERY different from open-source software.

          You don't have to pay patent license fees to use open-source software. A company that wants to mass-produce blue LEDs using a discovery owned by XYZ University may have to develop mass-production technigues and equipment - which they can patent themselves - but they still have to pay XYZ for the basic idea, and if the fee they pay is based on the number of LEDs produced, then you pay for it twice.

          Once when your taxes become the research grant that funded XYZ U.

          O

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            No, it's not different. What you're describing is the current system of university-owned patents. If it were like open-source software, you might pay a little in taxes for the research grant, but after that the knowledge is in the public domain and anyone can make blue LEDs without paying royalties, so blue-LED stuff is cheaper (since all competitors can use it, not just patent-fee-payers).

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Actually, it is nothing like OSS. First, and most obviously, is that there is almost zero cost associated with developing OSS. On the other hand, there is a tremendous cost associated with doing semiconductor research. The money to fund the research (including all the things that did not work) has to come from somewhere.

          The second thing that needs to be considered is what motivates people. For OSS, there are basically two groups contributing - people who are not paid (hobbyists) and business. Hobbyists

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            There is a cost to developing OSS: either time or money. Paid programmers don't work for free.

            A fair amount of OSS has been developed by the government or was funded by government efforts. TCP/IP was developed with government funding, as was Tim Berners-Lee's work. That stuff has had an enormous impact on society, all without royalty costs.

      • It could serve the US taxpayer good if the requirement was "for free" as long as the company was based in the US and the end product was manufactured in the US. With a little thought most things can be made to serve the public good while still enabling an economy to function and entrepreneurs to flourish.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ok fine.

      If universities must submit all research into the public commons, then corporations should stop getting subsidies/deductions/kickbacks. After all, thats public money. Corporations shouldn't be able to get public money AND private money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Universities should serve the public good. Anything created there should go into the public commons and be available to anybody and everybody to use.

      They do serve the public good; they are non-profit in the sense that the license proceeds are funding more academic research and the administrative costs / management overhead. Everything created there is available to the public; you can read all about it, if you just pay the proper academic journal for the article. If you want to use it commercially for pr

    • by hey! (33014)

      I don't see how holding patents in itself is intrinsically contrary to a university's purpose as a research and educational institution. The express purpose of the patent system (in the US anyway) is to advance knowledge, and the deal is this: you reveal publicly how your invention works in return for exclusive economic rights to the invention for a limited time.

      While common law trade secrets are clearly in conflict with the a non-profit university's duty to advance human knowledge, patents are not becaus

      • I don't see how holding patents in itself is intrinsically contrary to a university's purpose as a research and educational institution. The express purpose of the patent system (in the US anyway) is to advance knowledge, and the deal is this: you reveal publicly how your invention works in return for exclusive economic rights to the invention for a limited time.

        It's the "for a limited time" throttling that's the problem.

        The ideal of a university is that it's for the promotion and advancement of knowledge. Making a profit off the process isn't part of the ideal, and that's why univeristies are often non-profit organizations.

        If you retard that by limiting it to paying customers for a time, it's a bit hypocritical.

        If you retard that by limiting it when the public provided much of the funding for the discovery, it's a LOT hypocritical.

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Patents DO NOT 'retard' the advancement of knowledge. Patents are open. Patents can be freely discussed. What you can not do is create a thing with that knowledge (without the permission of the patent holder). And I don't know of any university that claims it exists so any manufacturer can make stuff without having to spend money developing it.

          Your 'funding' argument makes no sense either. You yourself said that universities (and especially research universities) are non-profit. That means that all of

          • I think that if I can know about something, but I'm legally prohibited from creating one of them myself unless I cough up enough cash, that counts as "retarding".

            I'm actually not sure these days just how many universities are profit, and how many are non-profit. But I do know that some of them have managed to amass immense amounts of cash into funds that don't appear to have much to supporting day-to-day operation of the school.

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              I think you need to look up the definitions of knowledge. Not one of them has the condition that a thing must be able to be used in practice.

              • I think you need to look up the definitions of knowledge. Not one of them has the condition that a thing must be able to be used in practice.

                If I know that something exists and how it's supposed to work - as stated in the patent - I have knowledge.

                If I know all of the above and I can experiminent with it, I can gain more knowledge. If I am forbidden from doing that, then my rate of acquisition of knowledge has been retarded. And that was the point.

        • by hey! (33014)

          FYI, non-profit organizations are usually supposed to turn a profit. Generating more revenue than you need to cover your expenses is a normal and necessary part of a sustainable organization. In practical terms that means you have to aim for a profit. So in practice a non-profit operates almost exactly like a for-profit, except there are no proprietors to distribute the profits to. In a non-profit you simply put the profit back into the mission, or into growing the organization.

          A better name than "non-p

          • Actually, in the long-term, a non-profit is expected to break even (allowing for inflation).

            When it consistently makes a profit, it can reasonably expect questions from the IRS.

    • by jythie (914043)
      Patents are how universities actually pay for their research. They do not get anywhere NEAR enough from grants and other funding sources to do what they do.

      If people truly want them to serve the public good and open up all their research, then they will have to also figure out where to get the money from.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      BU is a private school and technically is no different from any other private company.

    • Tell that to the sports departments.
    • I disagree. Think of holding patents as another way of funding an already cash-strapped educational system. A lot of schools are in need of better facilities for teaching students, many bright students are in need of scholarships, and professors are substantially under-paid compared to their industry counterparts. To do research (and get paid during the summer), you have to go out and apply for grant money, and not all of it can come from the NSF or other government agency. Organizations like SRC pool i

  • Maybe Boston U have seen this coming, and in reality want to publicise the list. I for one had never heard of them owning a patent on blue LEDs before this, and now I see how even the big guys pay not to take them on.
    • by ruir (2709173)
      There is a vested interest of the big guys to pay patent rights no matter how stupid they are. If they pay, they create precedents for others to pay, and thus create a barrier for small players to arrive to the market, due to have to pay the patents too. Microsoft is known for actively encouraging this, either directly or via proxying.
  • 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.

    • Time to disconnect from the modern world and go live in a wooden cabin in the middle of the forest.

    • 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 Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @01:52PM (#46651313) Journal

        Really? (and I say that as a genuine question, not some snarky reply)

        I always thought you could "make your own" from patent filings, you just couldn't sell/trade/traffic/commercialize it. So if I wanted to construct a swing in my backyard and use it in a sideways motion (with or without the Tarzan yell), such as currently under patent http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov] , I could do so without fear of repercussion, but I could not sell such a swing setup to others without violating the rights of the patent owner. Your definition of "use" would prevent such a project in my back yard.

        I don't buy the auto analogy, mainly because the insurance companies have nothing to do with the suit, except though my contract with them for payment of an award. The only reason their lawyers get involved is because it's their money. I have a buffalo wireless router I purchased many years ago, and if the courts interpret "use" as you say, then I am in direct violation of several patents (since Buffalo, afaik, never paid for the patents they used)

        • I always thought you could "make your own" from patent filings, you just couldn't sell/trade/traffic/commercialize it.

          Nope. Per Wikipedia, "...a patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention...".

          Now usually it's not worth the time/effort to enforce patents against end-users since they generally don't have much money. But witness the patent trolls going after small businesses for "scanning to email" or the use of wi-fi (really, look up Innovatio IP Ventures).

        • Really? (and I say that as a genuine question, not some snarky reply)

          I always thought you could "make your own" from patent filings, you just couldn't sell/trade/traffic/commercialize it. So if I wanted to construct a swing in my backyard and use it in a sideways motion (with or without the Tarzan yell), such as currently under patent http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov] , I could do so without fear of repercussion, but I could not sell such a swing setup to others without violating the rights of the patent owner. Your definition of "use" would prevent such a project in my back yard.

          Yes, you are incorrect there. The statute is 35 USC 271 [cornell.edu] and states:

          Except as otherwise provided in this title, 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 of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

          Note that there's no commercial requirement - this is unlike trademark law, where infringement has to include commercial use, because federal trademark law comes out of the commerce clause, while patents are under Article 1, section 8, clause 8. Merely using a patented invention is infringement, even if it's for completely non-commercial gain. In fact, this why there was the whole big controversy over the BRCA1 gene in Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics: one of the concerns was that if Myriad could patent an isolated gene, then scientists couldn't use that isolated gene even in their non-profit research on cancer cures.

          Two things, though: first, that swinging on a swing patent has been invalidated. ;)
          Second, for the most part, if you're making something for personal use in your home, the patent owner may never find out about it, so while you may be infringing, you're unlikely to get sued. Even if you do, the reasonable royalty for private, personal home use may be negligible. Let's pretend that the swinging patent was still valid and you did it... What's a reasonable royalty? A nickel? Maybe an entire quarter? It's going to cost someone at least $50k to file suit for infringement, and even if by some incredible odds you were found to willfully infringe and be held liable for their attorney fees, they'd still lose money, just due to inflation and lost investment opportunity. Plus, a judge would probably refuse the attorney's fees, because someone who sues over twenty-five cents is someone who is wasting the court's time, so why should they end up anywhere close to whole?

          I don't buy the auto analogy, mainly because the insurance companies have nothing to do with the suit, except though my contract with them for payment of an award. The only reason their lawyers get involved is because it's their money.

          But they have no right to interfere in the suit, even if it's their money, unless they can be made a party. That's what FRCP rule 14 is all about. As a result, they do have something to do with the suit, albeit indirectly to the main controversy. Civil procedure is weird that way.

          I have a buffalo wireless router I purchased many years ago, and if the courts interpret "use" as you say, then I am in direct violation of several patents (since Buffalo, afaik, never paid for the patents they used)

          Yes, quite possibly. It would depend on the claims at issue, of course.
          Specifically, some claims are written from an active client perspective - "receiving, by a router, a wireless communication; processing, by the router, the communication to do something really awesome; etc." Buffalo may make routers, but do they infringe such a claim?

          • Interesting. Seriously - thanks for the reply and link. For reasons I can't quite fathom, I find IP law fascinating - though it's only tangentially related to my work (engineer).

            • Interesting. Seriously - thanks for the reply and link. For reasons I can't quite fathom, I find IP law fascinating - though it's only tangentially related to my work (engineer).

              No problem. I quite enjoy it - I was an engineer for 10 years, then shifted into patent law. It's a lot of fun, and really, it's just more engineering. Mind you, I don't do litigation, just working with inventors and the patent office.

    • 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 Type44Q (1233630) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @03:17PM (#46652141)

        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.

        "Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices." - Thomas Jefferson

        • by PPH (736903)

          "Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, ...

          So England needs to serve us with a cease and desist order for copying their patent idea.

          Please, England.

        • by DRJlaw (946416)

          "Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as f

          • by Sabriel (134364)

            "He who receives ideas from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me" - also Thomas Jefferson

            Your acreage of land, unlike an idea, cannot exist simultaneously in the minds of many. Please do not conflate the qualities of the tangible and the intangible.

            • by DRJlaw (946416)

              Please do not conflate the qualities of the tangible and the intangible.

              I'm sorry, we're not dicussing the properties of the tangible versus the intangible. We're discussing the vicissitudes of natural versus social law. The quote and comment also have nothing to do with simultaneity.

              "Never mind that, look over here" is not a rebuttal. Thanks for playing.

              • by Sabriel (134364)

                ... please explain to me how discussing the vicissitudes of natural versus social law does not involve the historical (and ongoing) hypocrisy of men conflating the tangible with the intangible for their own selfish purposes, or how your comment involving "the next time" has nothing to do with a problem of simultaneity.

    • Patent laws are truly ridiculous. We should banish them all because there is zero evidence that patents are beneficial for society. We can re-implement them if we have evidence they're useful, but we have none. The absurdity you note is due to the patent law which paints both use and inducement of infringement as forbidden by patent law. Therefore, not only are you in violation of patent law if you stumble upon an idea or wavelength that someone else already registered first and try to market it, but you

      • If I come up with a way of doing something, I don't have a problem with you needing to either re-invent it from scratch or else pay me to use my idea.

        I do think that if you can show that you really did invent something from scratch *without ever seeing my invention or hearing about it* then you shouldn't have to pay me.

        Similarly, a patent should be on a specific implementation, not a general concept. This latter part seems to be a huge problem with many software patents...they try to patent a concept rathe

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Do you honestly think that we would have near the things we have today if not for patents? Do you really think some hobbyists were going to invent the transistor, the microchip, the complicated and expensive processes and tooling for manufacturing ever smaller and more powerful chips, battery technology, touch screens, all the lightweight but strong materials we have, LEDs, whatever? If so, you are seriously deluding yourself.

        Patents have existed for only a few hundred years. People have existed for tho

  • by msauve (701917)
    No comments here as to why BU might want the parties kept private.

    Let me hazard to guess that the settlements/licenses included confidentiality clauses, and the publication of the names may somehow work against BU.

    OTOH, if BU brought suit against all these companies, wouldn't any post-settlement dismissal of those suits necessarily be a matter of public record?
  • Okay, the settlement was done a couple months ago. The only thing new here is that the lawyers want to retroactively redact some company names from the original paperwork. So... Where's the story? It's only a mildly amusing anecdote and I expect this sort of thing happens fairly frequently. I get the distinct impression that the submitter wanted me to see something more here but for the life of me I can't figure out what.
    • It does also list the holdouts who haven't settled yet. Curiously, Cree and Lumileds are completely absent which makes one wonder what sort of deal they have.

  • Headline just sounds like some hick saying "Boston U". Everybody in the area knows it's always called BU.

  • Nichia had blue Gallium-Nitride LED tech in 1994, and is in fact credited with its invention.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Uh, right. Too bad this patent was filed in 1991.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Too bad prior art goes back even further than that.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          Too bad the patent is not for blue leds, but for a method of making them.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            Too bad the method of making them was the same back then, GaN epitaxy.

            • by bws111 (1216812)

              Well I am sure that all those companies will be very happy that you were able to find such obvious stuff to invalidate the patent when they couldn't. Or maybe you are just talking out your ass. Yeah, I'll go with that one.

              • by Khyber (864651)

                I do LED work for a living. I know Mr. Nakamura at Nichia.

                And the wikipedia entry is well-sourced, with not much of anything referencing BU.

                Perhaps you could bother reading the evidence, which you obviously have not.

                • by bws111 (1216812)

                  Instead of relying on Wikipedia, why don't you try reading the actual patents (which you obviously have not done)?

                  The wikipedia entry says nothing about either Mr Nakamura's or Boston University's work in relation to these two patents (Mr Nakamura US 5290393, Boston University US 5686738). The patents are about how to grow the semiconductors, not simply what material they are made of. And those two methods of growing are, wait for it, different. Mr Nakamura grows the layers 'at at temperature of 900 to 11

                  • by Khyber (864651)

                    "Instead of relying on Wikipedia, why don't you try reading the actual patents (which you obviously have not done)?"

                    I have. You're relying upon wikipedia instead of real life sources.

                    But that is your problem, while I've made devices utilizing said patents and they can't do shit about it due to doctrine of first sale.

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