Apple on Trial for Siri Patents

Apple may stand trial following a complaint filed by Dot 23 Technology. The non-practicing, Texas-based firm alleges that Apple’s Siri voice recognition technology falls under patents granted to them between 2002 and 2007.

Siri, which was first implemented in 2011 with the launch of the iPhone 4S, infringes on three patents. Dot 23 is taking the gadget maker to court specifically over the software’s geolocation and voice dialing features. 

Three of Siri’s capabilities are believed to have been developed by Byard Nilson. The patents were not assigned to the inventor but to Mobile Telephone Technology, a company with which he was associated until his transfer to Dot 23 Technologies in September.

Patents 6,405,029 and 6,917,802 cover voice dialing technology. They describe a software program capable of translating alphanumeric voice commands provided by the user. This intermediary software is similar to Apple’s in that iPhone users can instruct Siri to dial phone numbers using only voice recognition.

Patent ‘029 details the program’s ability to translate spoken language and process it into preprogrammed actions. This technology is designed to provide automated cues and simplify the user’s interaction with the device. Although Apple’s Siri does use an automated service, its capabilities go beyond the technology patented by Dot 23.

Patent 7,245,903 describes the program’s geolocation capabilities. This is the software that gives users information regarding geographical locations. The automated service can locate destinations according to voice command input and deliver data in real time.

The geolocation capabilities of Dot 23’s technology and Siri are similar. The only difference is that Dot 23’s virtual assistant receives its data from cell towers instead of hardware. Siri, on the other hand, pulls its information from multiple sources, including maps, the web, GPS and other hardware.

The complaint filed by Dot 23 acknowledges that Apple may not have known about the three patents. It should, therefore, be viewed as a notification to the company about their existence. Seeing that Siri was incorporated into the iPhone 4, 5 and 6, they are considered products of infringement.

Dot 23 hopes to obtain fees and through the lawsuit. The Texas entity also expects interest with damages. At the moment, a judge has not yet been assigned to the case but the complainant plans on proceeding with litigation.