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Professor: Uber, Lyft picked up my idea



A 79-year-old Atlantan claims he out-whizzed the West Coast whiz kids by about a decade in developing the concepts Uber and Lyft are built on, and he’s suing the ride-hailing companies for patent infringement in federal court.

Stephen Dickerson, a retired Georgia Tech engineering professor, developed in 1999 the idea of bringing cell phones, the global positioning system and digital payments together to get people around congested Atlanta, his civil suit says. His company, RideApp, filed the suit in the Northern District of Georgia last Friday against Uber and a subsidiary.

He filed a similar suit against Lyft and its subsidiaries last July. That suit is in the Northern District of California.

He outlined how it all works in the patent that he filed in 2000, Dickerson said by phone.

The patent was owned by Georgia Tech for years, but it failed to act on it and reassigned the patent back to him in 2018, he said.

“I realized, and some patent attorneys realized, that [the patent] ought to be enforced,” he said.

Dickerson, who serves on the Atlanta Transit Link board, said if he wins the suits he’ll help fund businesses and an app that will work seamlessly between local transit and services such as Uber to help solve the city’s congestion problem.

Uber and Lyft did not respond to emails by deadline.


I could see where Uber and Lyft will point to the differences (using smart phone apps) to dispute that it really is the as the patent. The devil is in the details.