Boston University has caught a nasty case of the Patent Trolls, I’m given to understand. Twice, in fact. I was about to say that Doug Flutie would be massively disappointed in his alma mater until I fact-checked myself and discovered that he went to Boston College and not Boston University, which I presume would be akin to saying that I went to Texas A&M instead of The University of Texas at Austin. Grave error, that…
Where to begin? I like Dr. Roy Schestowitz’s take on this which is to say why on earth are universities even allowed to patent things to begin with? I mean, I sort of get it because there’s value in things that the professors and students discover. It’s not so wrong that those discoveries should be able to be monetized in order to help fund our institutes of higher learning, particularly when the institutions are public. But as with any scenario, how you go about extracting value from your assets is key. Taking a patent that was first applied for 22 years ago and is now on its last legs and whacking Apple about the face and neck with it is not exactly fair play, am I right?
Why wouldn’t universities, who are presumably wont to be on the cutting edge of technology and science, prefer instead to sue for patent infringement on something more future-looking? I’m not 100% sure how all that R&D stuff works because I was not, how you say, “in to science”, so maybe I’m out of line here. It just seems like this is another example of troll-like behavior: going after deep pockets over an old and probably not even applicable patent.
The patent in question is a method for “highly insulating monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films,” and Boston University says that iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air products include an infringing thin film semiconductor device. It’s not clear if that’s Apple’s A6 processor, or some other chip — almost certainly built by Samsung or another partner — but in the antique language of patents, this inclusion causes Boston University “substantial and irreparable damage.”
Which, apparently, they just learned of yesterday.
That last sentence is a dead giveaway. It took 22 years to figure out that you have two years left to go after people for your patent. Really, BU?
Yeah, that dog won’t hunt.