The following is a brief timeline of events surrounding Sayana Wireless and its co-founder, Dr. Joy Laskar: Much of the information in this chronology was obtained through Georgia Open Records Act requests and the public transcripts and exhibits associated with Dr. Laskar’s university tenure hearing in March 2011, and subsequent hearings in state and federal court.
June 2006: Dr. Joy Laskar and Dr. Stephane Pinel form Sayana Wireless.
July 2006: Sayana Wireless enters into a license agreement with Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC), the licensing arm of Georgia Tech. To date: Georgia Tech has received more than $1.2 million in funds from Sayana and a five percent ownership position in the company — which later became 10 percent.
2007: Sayana officials joins the university’s incubator, and is promoted by GT and the state of Georgia as a shining example of a technology startup.
Nov. 2008: At the behest of GT, Dr. Joy Laskar appears on an MIT Enterprise Forum (Atlanta) panel session regarding Sayana Wireless with Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.
Fall 2009: Sayana is selected by top investment bankers. They agree to serve as an
agent to sell the company. GT and GTRC are notified and eager to profit from the sale.
GT/GTRC receives negative reviews from external auditors and ask Dr. Laskar and his center to take responsibility for cost overruns of other faculty for the previous fiscal year. Under threat that his staff will be fired, Dr. Laskar signs the memo.
January 2010: With the memo signed, GT/GTRC launch an audit.
Investment bankers launch the company sale process and get a highly positive response from the market.
GT begins secretly monitoring Dr. Laskar’s emails.
March 2010: GTRC alleges to the Internal Revenue Service and the state Attorney
General’s office that Dr. Laskar has misappropriated funds. GT auditors never interview Dr. Laskar.
GT meets with the IRS, who launch audits of Sayana’s and Dr. Laskar’s personal finances.
April 2010: GTRC agrees in an email to amend the license agreement with Sayana to facilitate commercialization but the proposed amendment is not executed.
May 17, 2010: The same day as the auction for Sayana was scheduled to begin, the Georgia State Attorney General’s Office executes 19 simultaneous search warrants against Sayana’s founders. Offices and homes are raided at gunpoint by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents.
Sayana Wireless Auction is halted.
Laskar is suspended illegally without pay from the University.
Late May 2010: GT/GTRC reach out to French foundry to claim that Sayana does not have rights to fabricate chips, even though this is part of the license agreement.
August 2010: GT/GTRC again indicate to French foundry that Sayana does not have rights to fabricate chips, interfering with the possible sale of the company to Samsung. In addition to buying Sayana, Samsung was to put a design center in Atlanta. Along with the numerous industry sponsors and research funding Dr. Laskar was expected to garner, the state of Georgia was expected to gain $225 million by 2015.
Sept. 24, 2010: Sayana founders are arrested on state racketeering charges but never indicted. GT/GTRC disseminates information to the local media. “Perp walk” footage is replayed over and again on the evening news. Dr. Laskar is released on bond.
Meanwhile, in addition to Samsung, Sayana gains interest from Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and others.
Late September, 2010: The ECE department head sends Dr. Laskar a letter, warning him not to step foot in his office building on the GT campus; that by doing so, he would be treated as a trespasser and arrested.
February 2011: Sayana’s attorneys attempt to have company property returned,
and are threatened by state officials that Dr. Laskar should “be careful” or his personal assets, such as his home and his bank accounts, will be frozen and seized by the state.
March 2011: Samsung does not acquire Sayana, because of GT/GTRC’s position.
March 28 – April 1, 2011: Dr. Laskar’s tenure hearing is held at Georgia Tech.The
electrical and computer engineering department head under oath, admits Dr. Laskar and Sayana did nothing wrong nor unusual. Read Laskar vol. 1, Laskar vol. 2, Laskar vol. 3, Laskar vol. 4 in their entirety.
April 2011: The University System of Georgia, the umbrella organization for
Georgia Tech, settles a civil lawsuit brought by Dr. Laskar and agrees to pay for attorney’s fees and back pay for Dr. Laskar. Read the order.
May 17, 2011: Dr. Laskar is officially dismissed from Georgia Tech. It is confirmed that neither Dr. Laskar nor Sayana committed any malfeasance. The findings of the tenure hearing indicate that he was fired allegedly for incorrectly filling out a conflict of interest form.
September 2011: The University System of Georgia loses an open records lawsuit brought by Dr. Laskar. A state judge orders GT to release 515,000 emails. Read the GORA order. GTRC is not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act. However emails contain GTRC information and clearly demonstrate GTRC is working to claim Sayana as its own.
October 2011: California based Centric Technologies enters discussions with Sayana to obtain intellectual property rights.
December 2011: Centric contacts GTRC for return of Sayana properties and assets.
January 2012: Centric acquires Sayana’s exclusive license. The company attempts for several months to get Sayana’s property returned and to commercialize the technology.
The attorney general’s office drops all charges against Chris Evans, the Georgia Tech staff employee who was suspended and arrested with Dr. Laskar and Dr. Pinel in 2010.
December 2012: Centric sues GTRC in federal court in California for violating its license agreement and for interfering with the commercialization of the technology.
March 2013: The Georgia Court of Appeals issues a statement as it affirms the lower court’s decision regarding Dr. Laskar’s termination and due process. Read the statement in its entirety.
May 2013: Dr. Laskar sued the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents (BOR) in federal court, for violations of due process. Simply put, he has sued for the methods and manner that Georgia Tech used in firing him. Read the Complaint in its entirety.
July 2013: The state Attorney General’s office, on behalf of the the Board of Regents, files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit Dr. Laskar initiated in May 2013. Read the Motion to Dismiss in its entirety.
September 2013: In December 2012, Centric sued GTRC in federal court in California for violating its license agreement and for interfering with the commercialization of the technology. A hearing took place July 2013, and on Sept 24, 2013 a federal judge in California denied GTRC’s motion to dismiss the case, has issued a trial date for Dec. 1, 2014, and given Centric the rights not only to take depositions but also to seek damages. Read the order in its entirety.
Nov. 17, 2013: The New York Times publishes a news story about Dr. Laskar. Read the story.
December 2013: The federal judge in Dr. Laskar’s suit against the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents (BOR) dismissed the case. Last May, Dr. Laskar had sued the BOR in federal court, for violations of due process. Simply put, he had sued for the methods and manner that Georgia Tech used in firing him. Next step: 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal). Read the decision.
January 2014: Jeff Chirico of CBS Atlanta has published a news piece on Chris Evans, the former Georgia Tech employee who was suspended and arrested along side Dr. Laskar in 2010. Watch the story.
July 2014 Update: the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Dr. Laskar’s request for oral arguments. The next court date is set for the second week of October (2014). This affords Dr. Laskar an opportunity to discuss in front of a panel of judges the illegal means and method by which he was dismissed from the university.
August 2014: Charges against Dr. Pinel are dropped.
October 2014: A three judge panel from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments regarding the means by which Dr. Laskar was dismissed from Georgia Tech in 2011. Typically a decision is reached in 90-180 days.
October 17, 2014: The Internal Revenue Service exonerates Dr. Laskar from the university’s claims that up to $2 Million was stolen. GT auditors and officials from the Attorney General’s office had met with IRS revenue agents in 2010 before Dr. Laskar was suspended and made claims.
November 2014: The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Dr. Laskar’s claim of illegal termination. Read the Appellate opinion.
December 2014: Dr. Laskar has filed petition for rehearing en banc, to have his termination argument heard by the full panel of 11 judges in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the petition 20141204_135059. UPDATE Dec. 17: due to a procedural error, Dr. Laskar’s petition for rehearing en banc is denied.
While sifting through a half-million emails, a pertinent trail of messages is found, linking officials from the USG Board of Regents & GT President and management & officials from the state Attorney General’s Office: a month before the original raid, these officials are discussing how to suspend Dr. Laskar without pay, which is illegal; and coordinating their efforts so the suspension will coincide with the raid in May. Read here: BORapril252010.
December 30, 2014: Dr. Laskar is indicted on two counts of racketeering. Read the Indictment. Note: The last “act” is dated June 24, 2011 — five weeks after Dr. Laskar was fired from Georgia Tech and nine months after the university barred him from his offices and labs and threatened to have him arrested for trespassing.
March 2015: Arraignment was held in Atlanta in front of Judge Robert McBurney. Dr. Laskar’s appearance was waived. A consent order was signed by both parties, giving extra time to prepare. Read the consent order here. Next: the next hearing is tentatively scheduled for the second week of August 2015.
November 2015: An evidentiary hearing is now scheduled for January 26, 2016, in Atlanta. Both parties have until December 18, 2015, to work out the details of what will be presented to the court. Read the order.
January 2016: The evidentiary hearing will take place 9:30a Tuesday January 26, 2016, at the Fulton County Superior Court, courtroom 5B, Atlanta, in front of Judge McBurney. Dr. Laskar will be in attendance.
June 2016: final briefs are due from both sides, to answer court’s legal queries.
October 5, 2016: Judge Robert McBurney dismisses the case against Dr. Laskar in its entirety. Read the laskar-order-for-dismissal.
November 7, 2016: The 30 day period that the State of Georgia and the Attorney General’s office has to appeal the judge’s decision EXPIRES. Dr. Laskar is free.
April 9, 2017: Read the most recent story by Nick Wingfield in the New York Times. Six months have passed since Judge McBurney’s dismissal. Neither the university, its board of regents or the state’s attorney general’s office has apologized or made any acknowledgement. The Laskar family’s personal belongings have not yet been returned.
April 18, 2017: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reprints the April 9 NYT piece but inserts a factually delinquent statement from the university into the body of the story.
May 17, 2017: Seventh anniversary of the raid. Still no apology. Still no return of Laskar family belongings.
Today: Still no apology. Still no return of Laskar family belongings.