Boston University can easily be considered a prestigious school, as Newsweek magazine places it 35th on its list of Top 100 Global Universities. Nestled in a city often associated with its plethora of outstanding schools and historic value, one would assume that a school like Boston University would strive to retain a sterling reputation. Yet Google News reveals a potential threat to Boston University’s public reputation: a hurried intent to sue Apple Inc. and several other major technology companies for using a type of insulated film strip in televisions and computers that was developed by a BU professor, Theodore Moustakas, in 1997. BU is trying to get this into court as soon as possible because the patent on the film strip design is soon to expire. This comes off as an obvious hint that BU is scrambling for money. A respected institution like Boston University should not be so desperate to acquire money in such a public display because it makes them look very desperate and in need of money. On top of that, launching attacks on corporate giants like Apple, LG, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon and Samsung, will most likely hurt more than help them.
Tech analyst Roger Kay, also president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, stated that “BU officials most likely decided to file the complaints this summer after realizing they could initiate the lawsuit for a relatively low price and yet reap major monetary gains” (Riley). This shows that BU’s mission has predominantly lucrative goals. He later explicitly states: “What’s really at stake here is a big pile of dollars” (Riley). An interview was taken of one of Boston University’s own Law professors, Michael Meurer, who specializes in intellectual property rights. He expressed his belief that “it is unlikely that Apple and the other tech companies are actually at fault” (Riley).
Given the professional input, it is clear to me that Boston University has found a way to acquire a lot of money. Granted, schools are always in need of money for development and modernization, yet gaining this money through courts and public accusations that are obviously money-oriented is somewhat soiling for reputation. Boston University in fact attempted to get Apple to stop producing the products that contained Moustakas’ invention. Yet they were later advised to simply conduct the money flow towards their assets instead of stopping the money flow altogether. Geek.com, a technology blog, believes similarly that BU’s demands of Apple and the other corporations “are of course not realistic, as no judge in the world would allow a patent of a ‘potential source of inexpensive and compact solid-state blue lasers’ to essentially cripple the country’s consumer technology sector” (Templeton). Boston University seems to be taking their accusations and demands to soaring levels, as the iPhone 5 contains the film strips, and could have no hope in the world of being stopped from mass production. TechRights.org, another tech blog, blatantly refers to Boston University as “a patent troll” that may lead to the idea of excluding universities from the right to create patents at all (Schestowitz). According to TechRights, Moustakas hardly invented anything, but simply extended the application of the compound. This apparently makes Moustakas “an opportunist and a troll” (Schestowitz), to be blunt.
Clearly the experts on these fields of work see Moustakas to be taking advantage of his partially fabricated situation. The possibility of BU’s lucrative attempts have been made into a probability from outside inputs. The public now sees Boston University as desperate and advantage-seeking. Yet Boston University has contributed hugely to the technological market. Lessig believes that “free resources have been crucial to innovation and creativity; that without them, creativity is crippled” (Lessig 14). It is because of Moustakas’ alteration of the film strips that the world now has more developed and efficient technology, which, in the scheme of things, will help to further launch the world towards better technology. In a sense, Moustakas should be extremely proud that his production has helped these corporations and made such a huge impact on the world. Immanuel Kant believes that “the public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to all mankind” (Kant). This directly applies to the issue today. Moustakas’ knowledge has brought enlightenment to the world of technology, and without it, we would not be where we are today. To further support this notion, Milton supports that licensing something like Moustakas’ knowledge would be “primely to the discouragement of all learning, and the stop of Truth, not only by disexercising and blunting our abilities in what we know already, but by hindring and cropping the discovery that might bee yet further made” (Milton). It is clear that this issue follows nicely with the concepts of these three thinkers and they support the fact that Boston University should not pursue this suing case, but instead let the knowledge benefit the world as it is already doing.