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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    The last time Apple signed a deal in Taiwan, Proview came back for more money.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,240member


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

  • Reply 3 of 31
    noahjnoahj Posts: 4,502member
    Wait, I thought that Apple was the only one to launch these patent lawsuits. Everyone else just wants to get along...

    Sigh...
  • Reply 4 of 31


    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. 

  • Reply 5 of 31
    eric475eric475 Posts: 177member


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

  • Reply 6 of 31
    carniphagecarniphage Posts: 1,984member


    Siri is not a speech recognition technology.


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

  • Reply 7 of 31
    vaelianvaelian Posts: 446member


    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.

  • Reply 8 of 31

    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.

  • Reply 9 of 31
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member


    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.

  • Reply 10 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,181member


    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)...

  • Reply 12 of 31
    timmydaxtimmydax Posts: 284member

    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?

  • Reply 13 of 31
    roos24roos24 Posts: 170member


    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...

  • Reply 14 of 31
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    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.

  • Reply 15 of 31
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    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.

  • Reply 16 of 31
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    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.

  • Reply 17 of 31
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    hmayeshmayes Posts: 29member

    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.

  • Reply 19 of 31
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    timmydax wrote: »
    Apple have their own speech-recognition technology. [SIZE=14px]It is not used by Siri.[/SIZE]

    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.
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