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Taiwan university sues Apple over Siri, asserts two speech-recognition patents

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
In a suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas last Friday, the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan claims Apple's implementation of Siri on the iPhone 4S infringes on two speech-recognition patents and seeks a permanent sales ban on offending products as well as damages awards.

NCKU is asserting U.S. Patent No. 7,707,032 for a "Method and System for Matching Speech Data" and U.S. Patent No. 7,266,496 for a "Speech Recognition System" against Apple and the company's Siri virtual assistant.

In the complaint, NCKU claims it has suffered monetary damages and will continue to suffer damages as a result of Apple's alleged willful infringement of both the '032 and '496 patents and is looking for an injunction against infringing products plus an award to recoup damages and lawyer fees. The value attached to the damages is "not yet determined."



NCKU's '032 patent, which was applied for in 2005 and granted in 2010, describes a rudimentary speech recognition algorithm that "determines the similarity between fragments of speech." Basically, the patent describes a system that compares input speech data with sample speech data.

From the '032 patent abstract:

A method and system used to determine the similarity between an input speech data and a sample speech data is provided. First, the input speech data is segmented into a plurality of input speech frames and the sample speech data is segmented into a plurality of sample speech frames. Then, the input speech frames and the sample speech frames are used to build a matching matrix, wherein the matching matrix comprises the distance values between each of the input speech frames and each of the sample speech frames. Next, the distance values are used to calculate a matching score. Finally, the similarity between the input speech data and the sample speech data is determined according to this matching score.


Voice-recognition Patent
Flowchart of speech data in'032 patent. | Source: USPTO


The '496 patent was filed for in 2002 and granted roughly six months later in July of 2003. NCKU's second asserted invention is more complex and describes a complete speech recognition system based on application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) architecture. The system is further broken down into four modules which, according to the patent, helps to interface "with various products and application requirements for the design reuse."

As in the '036 patent, the '496 property uses timing of speech frames and matching to "recognize" speech but goes deeper with the introduction of electrical components and software.

From the '496 patent 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.


Voice-recognition Patent
Illustration of the '496 patent. | Source: USPTO


Apple first introduced the Siri voice-recognizing virtual assistant with the iPhone 4S in October 2011 and plans to bring it to the iPad with iOS 6 this fall.

Friday's suit is the second filing against Siri this month and follows a similar claim from Chinese company Zhi Zhen which patented a voice-recognizing assistant called "Xiaoi Bot" in 2006.
post #2 of 32
The last time Apple signed a deal in Taiwan, Proview came back for more money.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #3 of 32

Hang on... Haven't we already established Apple holds the intellectual property rights to the use of rectangles?

post #4 of 32
Wait, I thought that Apple was the only one to launch these patent lawsuits. Everyone else just wants to get along...

Sigh...
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #5 of 32

The '496 patent seems to be not related to how Apple uses Siri. Until Apple adds a "training button" and a "recognition button," I can't see this one patent going far at all. 

post #6 of 32

Apple would never steal other people's IP. Absolutely not. :D

post #7 of 32

Siri is not a speech recognition technology.

The speech-to-text part of the interface is a licensed bit of software from Nuance.

post #8 of 32

One has to wonder how someone can claim damages when they never actually commercialized an implementation nor are demonstrating the will to license the IP, following that it would also be interesting to understand why a ban would be required when the supposedly infringing components are not implemented on the phones.

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

One has to wonder how someone can claim damages when they never actually commercialized an implementation nor are demonstrating the will to license the IP, following that it would also be interesting to understand why a ban would be required when the supposedly infringing components are not implemented on the phones.

 

They would be better going after Google's Jelly Bean version of Android which has ability to do offline voice recognition.

post #10 of 32

I wonder what connection a Taiwanese university has with East Texas in order to lodge a suit there?

 

If the Taiwanese government wants to protect the commercial interests of HTC by using their university to launch this suit, you'd think they'd be better off going after Samsung and S-Voice, after all Samsung are the ones who have destroyed HTC's market with their overhyped Touchwiz based phones taking over the non-iPhone smartphone market.

 

Samsung couldn't care less about other Android OEM's as they ruthlessly march toward complete domination of all areas of the cellphone market.

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post #11 of 32
Apple's had speech recognition technology since way back in the day. It was in Classic/legacy Mac OS. Surely Apple has speech recognition patents of its own significantly predating these. I see a lot of things like this where it seems people just weren't aware of what Apple had back in the 90s, etc. and think that because they see Apple doing things now that it's only just started doing them. It's only because it's way more visible.
post #12 of 32

I wonder why they waited until now to launch a suit?

 

Apple didn't create Siri, they BOUGHT the company (of the same name) that produced it. It was 'in the wild' for quite awhile (I was using an early version of it) before Apple bought them.

 

They had plenty of time to issue a cease and desist or a patent claim to Siri, the company. What about the next two years of being developed after Apple bought the company? Why didn't they step up to press their claim to Apple as part of the purchase?

 

I also wonder why they'd fire the first volley by using the "suit friendly' district of Eastern Texas for a patent filed in Taiwan? Have they pressed a claim with Siri or Apple prior to filing and been rejected?

 

Something isn't right here. And I agree with the previous poster, there are a number of aspects to their 'patent' than make it hard for this one to stick (manual button presses to initiate actions being only the first among them)...

post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carniphage View Post

Siri is not a speech recognition technology.

The speech-to-text part of the interface is a licensed bit of software from Nuance.

 

Apple have their own speech-recognition technology. It is not used by Siri.

 

Voice Control, OTOH....

 

Are these guys just dense?

post #14 of 32

It's all about money folks. As long as this country is ruled by money, and we have more lawyers than workers, we will have to deal with this crap. I bet that there are numerous lawyers looking for a job calling all sorts of companies worldwide to ask if they have something that could be used against other large companies (e.g. Apple) to try to make a quick buck. I'll wager that this law suit was initiated by a greedy jobless American lawyer. Next...

post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

The last time Apple signed a deal in Taiwan, Proview came back for more money.


This is not case based in Taiwan. The fact that the patent holders (US patents at that) are Taiwanese is incidental.

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post

 

Apple have their own speech-recognition technology. It is not used by Siri.

 

Voice Control, OTOH....

 

Are these guys just dense?


Right, let's assume they are dense without reading the patents carefully. Let's not assume maybe the *journalists* or you may be dense.

post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roos24 View Post

It's all about money folks. As long as this country is ruled by money, and we have more lawyers than workers, we will have to deal with this crap. I bet that there are numerous lawyers looking for a job calling all sorts of companies worldwide to ask if they have something that could be used against other large companies (e.g. Apple) to try to make a quick buck. I'll wager that this law suit was initiated by a greedy jobless American lawyer. Next...

"It's all about money ..."

 

"I'll wager ...."

 

Clearly it's all about money to you.

post #18 of 32
Neither patent seems relevant. There is no dedicated SIRi chip in the phone and I presume there no custom voice recognition ASICS on the server. Is there code in the A5 just for doing voice recognition? That is what they must be asserting in the second claim.
post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric475 View Post

Apple would never steal other people's IP. Absolutely not. :D

If the aforementioned IP is stolen, Siri (the company) stole it before Apple bought them.

post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

One has to wonder how someone can claim damages when they never actually commercialized an implementation nor are demonstrating the will to license the IP, following that it would also be interesting to understand why a ban would be required when the supposedly infringing components are not implemented on the phones.

Because they are obvious patent trolls that know nothing.

post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post

Apple have their own speech-recognition technology. It is not used by Siri.

Voice Control, OTOH....

Are these guys just dense?

But they aren't using it with Siri or dictation.

They did license from Nuance do that brings two questions. If it is the sme tech did Nuance get apartment earlier than this or has a prior art arguement they can make. second is it the same tech. Specifics matter with patents.
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

One has to wonder how someone can claim damages when they never actually commercialized an implementation nor are demonstrating the will to license the IP, following that it would also be interesting to understand why a ban would be required when the supposedly infringing components are not implemented on the phones.

Universities rarely commercialize IP. And at least in the US, you can't be forced to license non SEP patents, the issue that started the whole 'defacto standard' bs the other week
post #23 of 32

Since Nuance licensed the technology to Apple, and Dragon Naturally Speaking (in various forms and owners) has been around since 1982, where does that leave the patent in question?  That is a lot of code and implementation to go through.
 

post #24 of 32

"NCKU claims it has suffered monetary damages"

 

Step 1: Attract students to university and charge high tuition paid for by parents and government backed loans paid for by taxpayers

Step 2: Let students invent things

Step 3: Hire lawyers to file patents

Step 4: Wait for successful company to actually build a real product that purports to use that patent

Step 5: Hire more lawyers to check potential patent infringement

Step 6: Claim "damages" including above "lawyer fees" by suing successful company

 

Ridiculous.

post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


Universities rarely commercialize IP. And at least in the US, you can't be forced to license non SEP patents, the issue that started the whole 'defacto standard' bs the other week

Congratulations for missing the point!

 

The question here is: what damage?  If you aren't willing to license (as demonstrated by the injunction demand) nor do you have an implementation, you have 0 damage to claim.

post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

Because they are obvious patent trolls that know nothing.

Unfortunately for them, that's not even the case.  Patent trolls sue for licensing fees, not for injunctions.  By suing for an injunction without an implementation you are essentially throwing your claim out of the window because without the willingness to license or an existing implementation in the market you can't claim loss of profit (there would never be profit under those conditions even if there was no infringement).  The only explanation I see for this particular lawsuit is that they are acting as white knights in an attempt to hit Apple in some way.

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

From the '032 patent abstract:

A method and system used to determine the similarity between an input speech data and a sample speech data is provided. First, the input speech data is segmented into a plurality of input speech frames and the sample speech data is segmented into a plurality of sample speech frames. Then, the input speech frames ...

 

And if Apple's technique is different, NCKU loses the suit.  The patented method is very specific, and unless Dag Kittlaus and the other original Siri Inc. founders and engineers attended National Cheng Kung University and helped develop NCKU's algorithm, it's extremely unlikely that Siri uses the same method.

 

Mr. Kittlaus is Norwegian, and at least 44 years old.  Highly unlikely that he attended a Taiwanese university, and if he did, he would have been in graduate school roughly 20 years ago.  Long before the NCKU speech recognition patent was filed.

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post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roos24 View Post

It's all about money folks. As long as this country is ruled by money, and we have more lawyers than workers, we will have to deal with this crap. I bet that there are numerous lawyers looking for a job calling all sorts of companies worldwide to ask if they have something that could be used against other large companies (e.g. Apple) to try to make a quick buck. I'll wager that this law suit was initiated by a greedy jobless American lawyer. Next...

 

Why is it crap? As far as I can tell, the only inconvenience to you as a user is web sites getting you riled up over stories online. Let the courts do their work, let the lawyers do their work.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #29 of 32

Remember, Apple has had voice recognition on the Mac since 1984. They should sue the day-lights out of these people for being stupid!

post #30 of 32

East Texas is patent troll heaven.  Sometimes I wonder if the reason the trolls are so successful is that they slip money under the table to the judges and juries.  The trolls know that East Texas gives trolls favorable treatment, so that's where they all go.

 

I used to think that judges and juries were honest and unbiased, but the sheer number of wins over dubious patents in East Texas makes it pretty obvious someone is getting bribed and bribed repeatedly.

 

Wonder if any of the judges/juries live beyond their means?  Or drive flashy cars they can't afford?  

post #31 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by powerbrent View Post

Remember, Apple has had voice recognition on the Mac since 1984. They should sue the day-lights out of these people for being stupid!

 

Meh. The street goes both ways, so if the patent is valid, it's valid. If it's not, I'll be much happier.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #32 of 32

And I am going to sue my dog for peeing!

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