Trespass Tuesdays: Microsoft & Nokia Accused of Illegally Incorporating Proprietary Tech Into Popular Products



  by: Patrick Anderson | January 9, 2018

IPA Technologies v. Microsoft

According to a complaint filed January 1, 2018 in Wilmington, Delaware, Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, relies on stolen technology originally developed at non-profit research institute SRI International. A team of researches engaged in “fundamental research and development” designed to support Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes (“CALO”), described as “one of the world’s largest artificial intelligence projects. Ultimately, SRI granted a non-exclusive license to spin-off company Siri, Inc., in 2007, which was later acquired by Apple.

Not content, as Apple was, to legitimately acquire rights to fundamental digital assistant technology, Microsoft’s trespass undermines the efforts of companies like SRI and dozens of others who struggle to secure ROI on their research investments. In this case, SRI turned to IPA Technologies, a subsidiary of WiLAN, who specializes in new technology licensing.

Xtera, Inc. v. Nokia

According to a complaint filed on December 29, 2017, Nokia stole “dry plant” terminal technology from former University of Michigan Tech Transfer start-up Xtera, which it then sold to network operators as part of their core infrastructure. The 100 page complaint details the extent of Nokia’s trespass on Xtera’s property rights over multiple patent assets, significantly undermining the patent owner’s rights and rendering competition with international behemoths nearly impossible.

Xtera is the brainchild of Professor Mohammed Islam, who might also be familiar to readers as the founder of Cheetah Omni. Professor Islam may be a repeat victim of intellectual property theft, as Verizon was ordered to pay Cheetah $5.4 M in 2011 for their unauthorized appropriation of “fiber to the home” technology. While Professor Islam is not claimed to be responsible for the inventions allegedly stolen by Nokia, University records clearly identify him as the founder of Xtera.

Every Tuesday, IP Wire will highlight significant cases of intellectual trespass by some of the world’s the largest and most powerful companies. These illegal acts hamper commercialization efforts, as research and educational institutions simply lack the resources to compete with massive incumbents. In the case of public universities, public funds create technology and property rights, only to be stolen by massive incumbent organizations. In other cases, property rights stem from research by publicly subsidized, not-for-profit organizations. Companies who illegally use this technology without compensation are, in effect, stealing from the public, while entities that dare assert their rights are vilified in the media. IP Wire’s mission, and we choose to accept, is to get out in front of these stories and expose these actions for what they are: harmful and illegal.





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