Apple Hit with Patent Infringement Lawsuit by Boston University


One of the biggest private universities in the United States, Boston University (BU), claims that Apple is using an electronic semiconductor in its popular devices such as the iPhone 5, iPad and MacBook Air patented by a computer engineering professor at the University (via Patently Apple). 

At issue is US patent no. 5,686,738 for “Highly Insulating Monocrystalline Gallium Nitride Thin Films”, issued in 1997, credited to Theodor D. Moustakas Ph.D., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at BU as inventor. 

This invention relates to a method of preparing highly insulating GaN single crystal films in a molecular beam epitaxial growth chamber. A single crystal substrate is provided with the appropriate lattice match for the desired crystal structure of GaN. A molecular beam source of Ga and source of activated atomic and ionic nitrogen are provided within the growth chamber. The desired film is deposited by exposing the substrate to Ga and nitrogen sources in a two step growth process using a low temperature nucleation step and a high temperature growth step. The low temperature process is carried out at 100-400° C. and the high temperature process is carried out at 600-900° C. The preferred source of activated nitrogen is an electron cyclotron resonance microwave plasma.

As the patent description summarizes, the process is related to a method preparing highly insulating Gallium nitride thin films. Apple’s devices allegedly infringe one of the many BU patent, and so, according to the University’s claims, it has caused and will continue to cause irreparable damage to BU. 

The patent infringement lawsuit was filed in the Massachusetts District Court, and at stake is Apple’s tremendous amount of cash, as BU wants its share.