Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 12, 2014, 10:45am

MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Last week, the University of Minnesota filed complaints in federal court against the four largest wireless service providers in the United States, claiming patent infringement.

The complaints were filed against Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota Nov. 5.


The university asserts that the companies are using patented technology developed by one of its professors that improves the speed and reliability of 4G LTE service -- which the companies use and promote to their millions of customers -- without a license.


“As a result, Defendant has reaped substantial benefits from the University’s patented technologies,” according to one of the complaints.


The five patents-in-suit cover wireless communications innovations developed by professor Georgios Giannakis and his co-inventors.


Giannakis joined the university in 1999 and is a recognized expert in signal processing, communications and networking. He is the director of the Digital Technology Center at U of M and also holds an ADC Endowed Chair in Wireless Communications.


According to the university, he has received millions of dollars in public-sponsored research funding, including from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army, which have supported cutting-edge research in wireless communications and related fields at U of M.


“Every day, our faculty is developing life-changing inventions and cures for the common good; that is what a great research university does,” University President Eric Kaler said in a statement.


“We must vigorously protect our faculty, those discoveries and the overall interests of our university.”


U of M seeks an order enjoining the companies from using its patents, fair royalty from them for their unlicensed use of the technology, a jury trial and attorneys’ fees and costs.


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