Industry News

U Minnesota Sues Wireless Leaders for 4G LTE Patent Infringement

The University of Minnesota is suing  the four largest wireless service providers in this country, accusing them of infringing on several university patents.

The complaints, filed in United States District Court in Minnesota, state that Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are using technology developed and patented by a U Minnesota professor that improves the speed and reliability of 4G LTE service. The university is seeking a "fair royalty" from the companies for their "unlicensed use of the technology" and also asks for a jury trial.

The innovations at issue were, the university asserted, created by a team of researchers led by Georgios Giannakis, who holds an endowed chair in wireless telecommunications and heads up the Digital Technology Center. The center does research and development in the areas of signal processing and statistical learning in network, science and communication systems, or "SPiNCOM," as the group calls itself.

Since 1994 SPiNCOM has puts its efforts specifically into wireless, mobile communications and networking. According to the university, Giannakis has received millions of dollars in public-sponsored research funding, including from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army.

Between 2005 and 2011 Giannakis has been named on 22 patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office. According to coverage by Minnesota Public Radio, the suits involve five of those patents.

"Every day, our faculty is developing life-changing inventions and cures for the common good; that is what a great research university does," said university President Eric Kaler. "We must vigorously protect our faculty, those discoveries and the overall interests of our university."

None of the companies involved in the suit have issued public comments.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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