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Professor Sues Lyft Over Ride-Share Concept

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Ride-hailing service Lyft Inc. has been sued by a former Georgia Institute of Technology engineering professor for infringing upon his patented ride-sharing platform.

The complaint asserts that Lyft’s business model uses a system patented by Stephen Dickerson in 2001, a dozen years before Lyft was launched. Dickerson filed the lawsuit through his RideApp Inc. company on Monday in the U.S. District Court in New York City.

In 1999, Dickerson conceived a network that would use a handheld wireless device to hail a vehicle, exchange identification and location information between the passenger and driver, estimate connection time and bill the rider without requiring cash to change hands. At the time, cell phones had no apps and weren’t equipped with GPS.

Dickerson received a patent for his concept in 2001. As a member of the faculty, he was obliged to assign rights to the patent to Georgia Tech, which made no effort to defend it.

RideApp, which reacquired the patent in February, seeks unspecified damages, “reasonable” royalties from Lyft and an injunction that prohibits the company from further infringement. Dickerson’s attorney hints to Reuters that the inventor is likely to “enforce his rights” with other ride-share services.


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