Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, Inc., was sued by a Connecticut business professor for allegedly stealing the business idea for Woz U, a technology school established to “help create the innovators of tomorrow and narrow the technology skills gap in the U.S. by working with Learners, Higher Education Institutions and Corporations.” In the lawsuit, Ralph Reilly accused Wozniak of theft of intellectual property and copyright infringement, demanding $1 million in compensation. Reilly claims he revealed the idea for the technology school to Wozniak in 2010 and asked Wozniak if the school could bear his name. According to Woznick, however, Reilly was merely a fan Wozniak met briefly during a photo-op, where Reilly sought Wozniak’s advice on the proposed school and Wozniak casually agreed to the use of his name.
The case went to trial last month. Despite a contract signed by Wozniak and a series of emails in which Wozniak admitted his doubts that Woz U “would have happened without [Reilly’s] initial idea,” the jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes, finding in favor of Wozniak. Specifically, the jury found Reilly “failed to establish evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Wozniak.” Reilly’s breach of contract claim against Wozniak was previously dismissed by the court prior to the trial. Regarding his victory, Wozniak stated:
I am really pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit. From the time this issue was brought to my attention, I was confident that I would be vindicated by the facts surrounding the case since I had not seen or approved a demo site using my name. I’m glad the jury agreed. . . . Given the fact that the lawsuit centered around the use of my own name and pictures on the non-existent website in question, it makes perfect sense that the jury would see that there was no copyright infringement on my part.
Jury trials are picking up across the country as courts lift COVD‑19 restrictions and begin addressing the backlog of cases that piled up during the pandemic. If you need assistance maintaining or defending a civil lawsuit in state or federal court in North Carolina, please contact us at (704) 457-1010. For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit our website at www.lindleylawoffice.com.