Steve Wozniak Faces Lawsuit Over Tech School Idea

The trial begins next month

Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak attends 1st Annual Audi Speakers Forum at Four Seasons Hotel on May 24, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.

Steve Wozniak may be best known for his role as the co-founder of Apple, but it’s for a very different business venture that he’s currently facing a lawsuit. In 2017, Wozniak announced Woz U, an online initiative designed “to help fill the employment gap for high-paying technology jobs across the U.S.,” according to their launch announcement. The project was ambitious, including plans to add 30 physical locations in the years that followed.

Now, however, the origins of Woz U have sparked a legal battle. At Insider, Rob Price and Becky Peterson explored the issues at hand here — which center around whether or not business professor Ralph Reilly came up with the idea first.

In 2010, Reilly emailed Wozniak about starting “a high tech university.” Later that same year, Reilly asked Wozniak a more direct question: “Would you consider endorsing the idea of ME starting the Woz Institute of Technology?” Wozniak replied in the affirmative. Ultimately, though, Reilly’s efforts didn’t materialize; eventually, Wozniak’s business manager Ken Hardesty contacted Reilly in 2013, requesting that he remove a demo website he’d created for the aforementioned Woz Institute of Technology.

Reilly again contacted Wozniak when Woz U debuted in 2017. Wozniak responded with an email saying, in part, “I doubt it would have happened without your initial idea!”

The lawsuit, filed several years ago, includes questions of intellectual property and copyright infringement. As Gizmodo notes in its article on the lawsuit, some of the issues brought up by Reilly have since been dismissed by the judge working on the case. The case is far from over, with a jury trial set to begin on June 7; Wozniak will be among those testifying.

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