Ford has had a longstanding relationship with MIT. In 2007, the two partnered for a research program that included powertrain technology. The three professors, Leslie Bromberg, Daniel R. Cohn, and John B. Heywood, worked on technology surrounding internal combustion engines. They claim to have invented the dual-injection system. The company they formed, Ethanol Boosting Systems LLC, offered to license five patents to Ford in 2014, but negotiations broke down, and according to the complaint, Ford's chief intellectual-property officer is said to have characterized the trio as "greedy inventors" in an e-mail. Ultimately, Ford declined to license the patents.
Less than two years later, however, Ford issued a press release for its 2018 F-150 that boasted of "advanced dual port and direct-injection technology." The feature was found on the newly introduced 3.3-liter EcoBoost V6, which, Ford said, "adds dual port and direct-injection technology to deliver more power and torque than the previous 3.5-liter V6, plus improved projected EPA-estimated gas mileage — a win-win for customers." The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 also received the technology for 2018.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Neither Ford nor MIT would comment on the case.