Lawsuit against Carnegie Mellon University Settled

By Bowling, Brian | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 13, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Lawsuit against Carnegie Mellon University Settled


Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Carnegie Mellon University settled a decade-old claim that it misled an investor who sank $5 million into developing technology that didn't work.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab ordered the case closed on Thursday when London investor Christian Bouriez and the Oakland university reached an "amicable resolution of this matter." The order doesn't provide any details of the settlement, and lawyers for both sides didn't return calls seeking comment.

Carnegie Mellon spokesman Ken Walters said the agreement is confidential.

"We have no further comment," he said.

Michael Madison, a University of Pittsburgh professor who teaches commercial law, said lawsuits from unhappy investors rarely involve universities because schools stick to basic research and leave development to the private sector. However, the growing trend of universities seeking investors to fund research -- a trend Carnegie Mellon has led by building partnerships with private companies -- is changing the investment landscape.

"As you see more of these partnerships emerge, there's more of a risk of this kind of misrepresentation or misunderstanding," he said.

Bouriez and his company, Montanelle Beheer, sued the university in 2002 when he learned that the technology he'd invested in -- a microwave process for cracking heavy hydrocarbons -- never worked, even though CMU said it was ready to be turned into a marketable product.

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