Professor sues BYU, firm over non-compensation for work

By Lana Groves, Asst. News Editor

U professor Alan Rockwood is suing Brigham Young University and a company in Utah County for not compensating him for patents and work he helped develop.

Rockwood, clinical pathology professor and scientific director of the Mass Spectometry Lab at ARUP, spent more than five years helping to establish Torion Technologies under the premise that he would receive equity interest from the company, according to court documents.

Torion Technologies, a company from American Fork that develops measuring instruments, was organized through the efforts of Edgar Lee and other researchers originally as a software company. The technology includes government projects such as the portable handheld devices that can detect chemical agents in a field and other scientific equipment.

Rockwood collaborated with Lee as a researcher at BYU and helped invent technology that led to patents for the company, according to court documents.

Despite promises that he would be an equal equity owner alongside other researchers in the company, Rockwood said he was told in 2006 that he would receive less than 0.1 percent for his efforts, which is valued at about $3,000.

The firm Young, Hoffman, Strassberg and Ensor filed a lawsuit on behalf of Rockwood on Sept. 8 in the 3rd District Court.

The claim said that BYU, which has claim over the development work of Torion Technologies, and the company itself have not compensated Rockwood for his work.

The company, formed in 2001 by Milton Lee, a chemistry professor at BYU, was originally called Palmar Technologies Inc. Milton Lee worked with Edgar Lee, Wayne Lee and Rockwood to develop the company and buy software and other tools for programming.

Rockwood assigned interest from his patents to BYU, but according to court documents was told he would receive compensation from agreements between BYU and the company.

“We feel that the lawsuit is baseless, and we’re taking appropriate actions,” said Doug Later, president of Torion Technologies.

The company refused to make any other comment regarding the lawsuit.

Rockwood is listed as an inventor on six patents he worked on. He declined to comment about the lawsuit. Richard Ensor, the lawyer representing Rockwood, was also unavailable for comment.

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Alan Rockwood