MIT Professors Sue Ford For Allegedly Using Patented Tech On EcoBoost Engines

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A trio of professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim that the Ford F-Series trucks are using stolen technologies, which they invented, in their engines.

Bloomberg reports that in a lawsuit filed by the three professors on January 30, their patented dual port and direct-injection technology have been added to Ford’s line of EcoBoost engines in recent years. The inventors are requesting an unspecified share of the proceeds.

Ford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a joint energy-research program in 2007 dedicated towards furthering powertrain, fuel, and energy technologies. There was also a second initiative from MIT that paired university researchers with Ford personnel. In 2015, the partnership soured and Ford claimed that the professors were “greedy inventors" who refused to negotiate exclusive rights to license the patents.

MIT professors Leslie Bromberg, Daniel R. Cohn, and John B. Heywood claim they are the inventors of dual-injection technologies that allow for better fuel-and-air mixing and combustion stability than direct injection alternatives.

The processors transferred ownership of the technology to MIT, which then granted exclusive patent-licensing rights to Ethanol Boosting Systems, a small company founded by the three researchers. EBS offered to license patents on the dual-injection technologies to Ford in 2014, but the automaker declined.

In the lawsuit, MIT and EBS claim that despite a deal for Ford to use the patents falling through, the automaker was already starting to incorporate the technology into its latest engines. Current vehicles using Ford’s EcoBoost engine with direct-injection include not only the F-Series trucks but also the Expedition and other models.

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