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U of Regina’s nightmare industry partnership goes from bad to worse

By David Schwartz
Published: May 15th, 2018

An industry partnership that began more than a decade ago between the University of Regina and HTC Pure Energy has been in court since 2012, with the university alleging that the company received a $10 million payment behind its back, leaving the school without a cent in royalties. U of Regina sued both HTC and South Korean company Doonan over the alleged backroom deal, and also leveled a fraud charge against both companies.

The latter just backfired in a big way, with a judge in the case ruling the fraud charge was baseless and awarding $35,000 to the two companies to cover their legal costs.

The original lawsuit alleged HTC and Doosan had secretly entered into an agreement to commercialize the university’s carbon capture technology – which HTC and the university were partnering on — in exchange for a $10 million payment that was concealed from the university.

HTC and Doosan have consistently argued that the university was falsely alleging fraud in its lawsuit, and that the school knew about the payment all along. The judge agreed. “Even once the information which demonstrated the lack of merit in the allegations of fraud was clearly drawn to the university’s attention, the university persisted with the allegations, refusing to change its position until the eleventh hour,” the judge explained.

The university did eventually remove the fraud allegation from its statement of claim, which is still being litigated.

HTC and Doosan don’t dispute that the $10 million changed hands and that Doosan licensed the CO2 capture technology in 2008, three years after the HTC research deal with U of Regina commenced. But Doosan claims the university was aware of it, and signed a letter “granting Doosan the right to become a direct licensee of the university in certain circumstances.”

That letter was signed by Ian Bailey, who at the time was U of Regina’s director of the University Industry Liaison Office. In the lawsuit, the university said HTC and Doosan deceived Bailey into signing the letter while failing to reveal to him that Doosan had paid money to HTC.

The university claimed HTC and Doosan didn’t reveal the fact of the $10 million payment and “deceived Mr. Bailey into believing, incorrectly, that the exclusive consideration being provided by the Doosan sefendants was the promise to pay “royalty fees” under the Doosan License Agreement.”

In addition, the university argued that Bailey didn’t have the authority to sign on behalf of the U of R and it claimed Bailey didn’t write the so-called confirmation letter at the heart of the dispute. Instead, the university said, that letter was written by HTC and/or Doosan. The school also asserted that Bailey did not possess the authority to sign in any case.

Doosan countered that Bailey held “an executive or high ranking position within the UILO, which is a unit, branch, department and or division of the university,” and was thus a valid signatory. While this issue and the related fraud charge has now been resolved, the university’s original lawsuit against HTC and Doosan continues. 

Source: CBC

Posted under: Industry-Sponsored Research Week

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