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Professor Who Built Startups at School Can Sue Over Firing

Georgia Tech says Joy Laskar used university resources to help his companies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2020 7:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – A decade ago, the Georgia Institute of Technology fired a professor, saying that, by launching secret startups tied to his university work, he'd crossed the line between academic research and the tech industry. Joy Laskar was indicted on charges of misusing $1 million in university money but never tried in the case; a judge dismissed the case before trial. "I was hit from left field and never even given the chance to even respond to the allegations," Laskar said recently. He accuses university officials of giving false information to Georgia prosecutors. Now an appeals court in Atlanta has decided he can pursue a malicious prosecution lawsuit against them, the New York Times reports.

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Laskar was the director of the Electronic Design Center, which designed mobile phone technologies and was affiliated with the school. Georgia Tech said Laskar abusing his position to help his startup with access to the university's resources, per the Journal-Constitution. Sponsors including Samsung bankrolled the lab to the tune of $70 million. Laskar was in the middle of launching his fourth startup when his home and office were raided. Some of the personal items seized remain in university storage, including a laptop with his wife's uncompleted novel. Universities often aid startups, but the rules vary. "They all have policies that are really tricky to navigate," an expert said. With the lawsuit, Laskar said, "I want to correct the wrong that not only affected me but my family." (Read more Georgia Tech stories.)

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