Another week, another instance of someone or some company seeking legal action against Apple – Apple and Nokia, Apple and HTC, and in one instance, a Apple and a Chinese animation studio, to name a few. Today, Apple is once again the defendant. This time, however it’s going up against Boston University in a patent infringement battle.
According to the Boston Herald, Apple infringed on a patent (Number US 5686738 A to be exact) owned by Boston University. The patent, granted in 1997, pertains to the creation of thin gallium nitride film semiconductors. The complaint, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, says that a part used in the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air was patented by BU professor Theodore Moustakas. According to the complaint, several of Apple’s products, including the iPhone 5, iPad, and MacBook Air include a gallium nitride thin film semiconductor device claimed by the’738 patent, which BU says infringes one or more of the patent’s claims .
BU also said that Apple’s “acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause substantial and irreparable damage to the University.” The institution is seeking damages from Apple, claiming that it wants Apple to tally up all of the profits it received from using BU’s technology, and then pay a share of the money to the institution – plus interest. The Boston Herald quotes tech analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates as saying a successful verdict could see upwards of $75 million for BU. That’s just one analyst’s opinion, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
Apple isn’t the first company BU has gone after with this claim, however. BU filed the same complaint against Amazon and Samsung. The patent expires at the end of next year, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with BU and the the trifecta of tech giants it’s up against.