According to a piece by Mikey Campbell for AppleInsider, non-practicing entity Portal Communications has filed a patent suit against tech giant Apple over Siri's ability to understand both voice and text commands. In the suit's filing paperwork, Portal states that The Intellection Group's CEO Dave Bernard initially invented the technology and then transferred it to Portal, leveraging three patents titled "Multimodal natural language query system and architecture for processing voice and proximity-based queries" against the iPhone maker.
If you're not much for combing through court documents, Campbell describes in simple terms where the patents bump up against Siri's technology (and to be fair, the ideas do sound pretty similar):
Each patent deals with methods of parsing user queries from natural language patterns into machine decipherable commands, whether they be voice or text. The IP details methods of further processing requests using GPS location data, or other proximity information, to provide a context and environment for narrowing down a response. As a continuation of the '645 patent, the '654 IP tacks on server-related features like speech conversion modules. The '872 patent, itself a continuation-in-part of both preceding patents, adds an accuracy algorithm for ranking responses of a database lookup.
So basically, because Siri can understand prompts in "natural" language and is able to form relevant responses, Portal alleges that Apple is infringing upon its intellectual property.
Campbell goes on to give a brief history of Siri with respect to Portal's patents, so you can better see how the two line up:
Apple purchased Siri in 2010 when the software was available as a mobile assistant for iPhone. Initially based on Nuance voice recognition and natural language processing technology, Siri advertised its conversational attributes as one of the app's main draws. Apple integrated Siri into its hardware lineup with iPhone 4S in 2011, some three years after the '645 patent was granted. Building on Siri's foundation, the company expanded the voice assistant's capabilities to cover device operations, and later installed the feature on other platforms including iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and, most recently, HomePod. Siri in its most recent iteration is powered by Apple's in-house engines, which draw on artificial intelligence and deep neural networks to complete tasks.
Portal's paperwork states that pretty much all Apple tech with Siri integration is infringing upon its patents, including iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch Series 3, HomePod, and more. Strangely, though, Portal also targets devices running operating systems as old as iOS 3.1 without really explaining how those could possibly be infringing in any way (Siri didn't launch until iOS 5).
For all of this alleged patent ignoring, Portal is seeking compensation to the tune of "damages for infringement with interest, a trebling of damages, court expenses and a preliminary or permanent injunction against products found to infringe on the patents-in-suit."
For more detailed information regarding this lawsuit, I highly suggest you check out Mikey Campbell's article here.
Do you feel that this case has legs? Share your opinion in the comments!
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