July 31, 2012
Siri: Another Day, Another Organization Suing Apple
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A University based in Taiwan is now saying Siri violates two of their patents. According to the suit, filed in an East Texas District court, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) say they own the rights to two voice-recognition patents: One which involves a "method and system for matching speech data" and a second which details a “Speech recognition system.”
As a part of the suit, NCKU is seeking monetary restitution, saying they´ve suffered financial damages as a result of Apple´s Siri patent violations. In addition to payment, NCKU is also seeking an injunction against all Siri-enabled devices, as well as asking Apple to foot the bill for all damages and lawyer fees. The grand total is “not yet determined,” as NCKU´s legal manager says they´ve declined to announce the total amount of damages because it will be based on how well Siri sells in the US. Siri will soon be available for all iPads capable of running the latest iOS 6 software.
“We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes faster and its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners and the compensations are usually higher,” said Yama Chen, legal manager of National Cheng Kung, speaking with Reuters.
According to NCKU, they first filed for the “Method and System for Matching Speech Data” patent – or patent number ℠032 – in 2005. This patent was granted to the Taiwanese university nearly 5 years later in 2010. In it, a speech recognition algorithm was described which “determines the similarity between fragments of speech,” meaning the system compares speech input with stored speech data.
NCKU filed for the second patent for the more simply titled “Speech recognition system” – or patent number ℠496 – earlier in 2002 and was granted the patent nearly 6 months later in July 2003. Patent ℠496 goes more in-depth about a speech recognition system, one which is based on specific integrated circuit (or ASIC) architecture.
According to the abstract, “The present invention discloses a complete speech recognition system having a training button and a recognition button, and the whole system uses the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) architecture for the design, and also uses the modular design to divide the speech processing into 4 modules: system control module, autocorrelation and linear predictive coefficient module, cepstrum module, and DTW recognition module. Each module forms an intellectual product (IP) component by itself. Each IP component can work with various products and application requirements for the design reuse to greatly shorten the time to market.”
Wang Jhing-fa, a professor at NCKU´s Electrical Engineering program, owns nearly 20 patents in the field of speech recognition as a result of his more than 30 years of work. According to Taiwanese news source FocusTaiwain.tw, Jing-fa was not aware that his patents had become a part of a new suit against one of the World´s largest and best known companies.
“I just focus on research and has never bother to think about IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues. If our university legal personnel had not carefully screened patents owned by our faculty members, we could not have discovered Apple´s possible infringements into our patents,” said Jhing-fa.
iOS 6, which will expand the number of devices on which Siri runs, is expected to be released this fall.