Tech Company Sued by U. of Illinois Takes It Out on Its Students

A lesson for universities thinking about pursuing patent-infringement cases against companies: Legal fees aren’t the only potential cost. You could also annoy the company so much that it will refuse to hire your students.

As reported on the blog PatentlyO, that’s just what happened this year to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A year after the university sued Micron Technology, a semiconductor manufacturer, the company informed engineering faculty members that it was imposing a hiring ban because the costs and risks of the lawsuit were “inconsistent with collaborative relationships among Micron, UIUC, and its students.”

The company, which has donated to the university through its foundation in the past, said it was also suspending other joint activities.

The university’s argument that the hiring ban was coercion fell flat in court. A federal judge denied the university’s request for an injunction against Micron on those grounds, although the judge did acknowledge that “Micron’s decision to shun the university’s students is without tact.”

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