A business professor accuses Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak of stealing the idea of creating a technology school called ‘Woz’ and demands millionaire compensation.
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May 25, 2021 4 min read
Connecticut business professor Ralph Reilly filed a lawsuit against Steve Wozniak , Apple’s co-founder , charging him with theft of intellectual property and copyright infringement . As compensation, the plaintiff demands the payment of one million dollars , so the case will go to trial on June 7.
According to documents published by the Business Insider portal, Reilly claims that he exposed the idea of creating the ‘Woz School of Technology’ to Wosniak in September 2010, via email. His mission would be to teach computer science and other technical knowledge to adults, drawing on Wozniak’s reputation and experience in the technological world.
Soon after, in 2011, the Reilly presented Wozniak with a contract that gave the university the right to use his name and image for the tech school in exchange for quarterly payments. According to the lawsuit, the philanthropist also signed the document.
Wozniak and his team distanced themselves from the project. However, in 2013 Reilly released a mockup of the ‘Woz School of Technology’ website , but Ken Hardesty , Wozniak’s business manager , demanded that he remove it and stop communicating directly with the legendary programmer. Eventually, Reilly obtained copyright protection for the website, which is now the center of the lawsuit.
And it all ended in demand …
Although the project with Reilly did not take off, in 2017 Wozniac launched an educational platform under the name ‘Woz U’ , in association with the company Coder Camps , focused on learning codes.
Upon learning, Reilly emailed Wozniak to request that he be part of the company as a co-owner , court documents say.
“It’s exactly what I envisioned for the Woz Institute of Technology when I approached you with the idea,” Reilly wrote in the letter.
“You’re right. You had the right idea , ”Wozniak replied. “I doubt it would have happened without your initial idea!” added.
Although the Apple co-founder acknowledged that the idea came from the professor, he did not obtain confirmation that he would grant him partial ownership of the project. It was when Reilly decided to sue Wozniak accusing him of alleged breach of contract , theft of intellectual property and copyright infringement . Only the last two were successful, while the first and others were dismissed by a judge.
The same outlet shared an image of the contract presented in the court documents, which shows what appears to be Wozniak’s signature . In his statement, Steve Jobs’ former partner assures that he does not remember signing the document, but he does not deny that it is his signature.
Meanwhile, Wozniak’s team claims that the pair never reached a real agreement on the ‘Woz School of Technology’ . Part of his defense is that the tech entrepreneur does not intervene in his own business dealings and leaves contract negotiations to other members of his team.
Steve Wosniak to take the stand
On June 7, the trial will begin to determine if Steve Wosniak is guilty or not of copyright infringement and property theft.
The Apple co-founder must take the stand in the Arizona District Court as a witness and days later the jury will decide whether to pay Professor Ralph Reilly the million dollars he is asking for in damages.