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WARF and Intel Settle Patent Suit Over Core 2 Duo 79

reebmmm writes "The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and Intel have settled their patent suit over technology developed by Gurindar Sohi, a computer science professor at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Professor Sohi developed technology that was ultimately patented by WARF using money he received from Intel. Last month, Judge Barbara Crabb found that the funding agreement was ambiguous, but that e-mails revealed that the money was an unrestricted gift and carried with it no obligation to license or assign any inventions to Intel. Trial was scheduled to begin today. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed."
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WARF and Intel Settle Patent Suit Over Core 2 Duo

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  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:14PM (#29650905)

    He has no control over it, if he used University facilities to do the research and isn't bound by some other agreement, the patents are controlled by WARF. Complain about A) a system that takes control away from the inventor or B) the way WARF handled this case.

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:39PM (#29651111) Journal

    If I worked on something for years, I'd want more than $90,000 before I signed it over.

    Just sayin'...

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:47PM (#29651219)

    So, you're saying that Intel gave him a bunch of money with a "gentleman's agreement" that anything he came up with would belong to them? Doesn't that strike you as the kind of thing you would want a contract for? I kind of doubt that Intel was like "Here's a million dollars, don't worry about signing anything, we trust you."

  • by 1729 ( 581437 ) <slashdot1729&gmail,com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:20PM (#29651545)

    Why isn't anyone picking up on the fact Sohi was possibly working for them illegally? Did the H1B's run out?

    You've got to be kidding me. When I was a grad student at Wisconsin, Prof. Sohi was the CS department chair. Don't assume that someone is an "H1B" just because they have a foreign-sounding name.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:03PM (#29651917)

    Is his name on the Patent? If so, then he had to expend a lot of work in writing it up, meeting with the patent attorney, etc. It's not like the University just got a patent on his work without him being involved in it. Therefore, he's just as responsible as the University for screwing over their corporate benefactor.

    This will probably be the end of UW as a corporate-funded research university, if other corporations are smart. If I was an executive at any tech company, I'd be pulling all funding from this place right away.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:46PM (#29652629)

    Which is precisely why corporate CEOs - and sundry other people at the top of various food chains - are likely to be the least ethical people you're going to meet. Ethically ambiguous people are thus more capable of making decisions that maximize profit, in true the-end-justifies-the-means fashion.

    As a civilization, then, we're hypocrites: we talk a lot about ethics and rights and equality and such, but then THESE are the people we promote to the highest levels of both business and government. Is it any wonder all the talk goes unrewarded and stays largely just talk? Look at how many millions of people were, and are still, convinced that either Bush or Obama are actually ethical.

    If we really wanna change the world, we'll have to first change the criteria we're using that allow such ethically unsound people to always wind up in positions making decisions for all the rest of us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:51PM (#29652675)

    First of all, the university got _no_ money from Intel. The money was given to Guri somewhat surreptitiously, specifically so that the university could not channel it to other uses (for example, providing Sohi with an office to work in, and office space for his numerous grad students).

    Secondly, the university, as well as several other funding agencies, provided Sohi with significantly more than $90,000 in the same time period. It is not as though Guri owes his career to Intel. On the contrary - $90,000 is a paltry sum for a big shot like Sohi. Hardly enough to keep a single grad student fed on crackers and spaghetti-o's for five years, much less travel expenses.

    To walk away from this story thinking that Sohi and UW are somehow ungrateful profiteers is folly. Rather, it is Intel who clearly overstepped here, in thinking that Sohi's most lucrative and significant work could be purchased for such an insignificant price, and then requiring UW to put up legal expenses for a year while they played victim to maintain appearances. The fact that so many suckers actually believe Intel is the victim here indicates that this form of damage control was a prudent investment on their part. If that doesn't upset you, then you're beyond hope.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:17PM (#29653147)

    There was no issue about a gentleman's agreement between Sohi and UW; that was between Sohi and Intel.

    Furthermore, UW has very generous rules regarding the IP of its students and faculty. Specifically, the researcher owns the IP and is free to do with it what they will. WARF is an organization that procures and manages patents for those who decide to take that route. Sohi was well within his rights to patent his work, and IMHO his actions were reasonable.

    One must realize that Intel gave Sohi $90,000 over the course of ten years (this is a very small amount for a researcher like Sohi), in the course of which several other funding organizations (including UW) gave him significantly more money. Intel realized that they did not have a leg to stand on, legally or ethically, and thus the case was settled.

    In light of this, who would actually rather see money from this innovation go to a behemoth corporation than a nonprofit institution of higher learning? Duh...

  • by macshit ( 157376 ) <> on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:02AM (#29654819) Homepage

    The point is simple: if you want certain special benefits in return for your money (and Intel clearly did), then you should be above-board and state them. There's nothing morally superior about "implicit" strings.

    If they really want to give no-strings-attached funding -- meaning no strings attached, not "strings-attached-but-we-can-dance-around-and-look-selfless-for-marketing-purposes" -- then they're still perfectly free to do so.

    I think in general improved transparency is a good thing, and wink-wink-nod-nod relationships with big corporations are not compatible with that. If companies care about certain things like avoiding excess patent licensing fees, they'll just specify those terms in grants; this is no different in effect than the "implicit" terms you seem to advocate, except that it is more transparent, and because of that, less subject to abuse or misinterpretation.

Variables don't; constants aren't.