Apple sued over Apple TV's 'What did he say,' other Siri voice control features

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited July 2017
Florida-based software company CustomPlay on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming a fourth-generation Apple TV feature that allows users to control and interact with video content using Siri voice commands infringes on patented software technology.


Apple design lead Jen Folse presents Siri voice controls in tvOS in 2015.


The suit, lodged with the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida, alleges Apple infringes on U.S. Patent No. 6,408,128 for "Replaying with supplementary information a segment of a video" with certain Siri-powered Apple TV functionality.

CustomPlay in the '128 patent details a method of replaying or skipping portions of a video in response to user commands, both via a remote and by voice. Further, the software feature facilitates the display of supplementary information when a clip is replayed, including subtitles, secondary languages, textual information, different camera angles and more.

MacRumors reported on aspects of the case earlier today.

The company, which markets movie player and movie enhancement applications, integrates functionality detailed in the '128 patent in companion software called One Screen. Similar to Amazon X-Ray, the dedicated app provides users with real-time contextual information like scene locations, cast info, music, plot info, easter eggs and more.

One Screen is currently listed as "coming soon" on the firm's website.

As it pertains to the case, One Screen includes a feature called "What," which rewinds a movie to a user-defined point, then resumes playback with subtitles enabled. Other claims asserted cover the ability to skip ahead in movie in response to a user request.

Apple offers Apple TV customers a nearly identical experience with Siri voice commands. According to an Apple support document, users can ask Siri, "What did he say?," to prompt an automatic rewind feature that plays back a portion of a movie with closed captioning switched on. This very feature was shown off onstage when Apple launched the device in 2015.



Further, court documents show CustomPlay sought to license its companion app technology to Apple more than a year prior to the fourth-generation Apple TV's unveiling. In July 2014, the company sent Apple letters and an accompanying nine-minute video explaining in-video enhancements including the "What" function.

CustomPlay is an affiliate of Nissim Corp, a patent licensing company owned by Max Abecassis, the inventor of CustomPlay's '128 patent. Nissim brought legal action against Apple last year for alleged infringement of seven patents related to DVD technology. The companies settled out of court in December.

According to Nissim's website, it also leveled enforcement actions against Universal Studios, Time Warner, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount and ClearPlay. The company claims to have reached patent licensing agreements with a number of big-name electronics firms including Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic and more.

CustomPlay in its lawsuit against Apple seeks damages, court fees and requests a trial by jury.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    lolliverflashfan207macseekerwatto_cobrabeowulfschmidtjbdragonlkruppstompyjony0
  • Reply 2 of 23
    razormaidrazormaid Posts: 299member
    More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    Exactly what I was thinking too 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 23
    riverkoriverko Posts: 52member
    I really should patent how to fart and than sue everyone. I thought remote controls were here for few decades, so does this patent covers also our firt remote controlled tv from 1985? Shall we pay for it?
    EsquireCats
  • Reply 4 of 23
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 411member
    I'm trying to stay off of wine but AppleInsider is making it hard. I'm trying to loose several pounds.
    EsquireCats
  • Reply 5 of 23
    More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    It was granted because the application said one or both of the following
    - with a computer
    - using a computer network


    StrangeDayslolliver
  • Reply 6 of 23
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,747member
    Dumb. More proof that software should be eligible for copyright protection only, not patents. Did they steal your code? No? Then move along. Ideas are easy, implementation is hard and varied. 
    lolliverbshankwilliamlondonjbdragonEsquireCatswatto_cobramejsricanton zuykovstompy
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Requesting a trial by jury no doubt so that they can try to convince them this is not the frivolous suit it is.
    EsquireCatswatto_cobraanton zuykov
  • Reply 8 of 23
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    "What did he say?". Or requiring word spelling... That only happens with English language, which is not phonetic.
    anton zuykov
  • Reply 9 of 23
    Wow, they are getting sued over a feature I have never even used, since Siri on Apple TV still doesn't work here in Switzerland, even though most people here either speak German or French (and it works in both Germany and France). Dont get it.. Patents on UX features like that are aweful though. This is not a patent on "software technology" but on a way to interact with software technology. Its using a similar command, but the software code itself is most likely very different.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?

    I'm often in disagreement with posters on AI concerning what most people call "patent trolls," but this one has me stumped as well.  Unless Apple stole their implementation of this, I don't see how this is actionable.
    EsquireCats
  • Reply 11 of 23
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    This case will be thrown out on appeal. 
  • Reply 11 of 23
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 631member
    razormaid said:
    EsquireCats said:More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    Exactly what I was thinking too 
    If it was so obvious, why did Apple think that feature was worth highlighting when they introduced the new AppleTV?  Hey, Apple's lawyers must agree with you and will fight to have the patent invalidated.  How else to explain that Apple declined to license the patent that Nissim demonstrated to them a year earlier.  But if it was really so obvious, I don't think it would be a highlight of a keynote.

    I still have a lot of money invested in Apple in shares and products, I do hope they're right on this.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    It was granted because the application said one or both of the following
    - with a computer
    - using a computer network


    I particularly love these patents because the equivalent is trying to patent any form of motion "while using an automotive", or any kind of drawing "while using a piece of charcoal", or any trivial action using an irregular item - just because we switch a single variable in the chain does not make the action non obvious.
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 14 of 23
    williamh said:
    razormaid said:
    EsquireCats said:More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    Exactly what I was thinking too 
    If it was so obvious, why did Apple think that feature was worth highlighting when they introduced the new AppleTV?  Hey, Apple's lawyers must agree with you and will fight to have the patent invalidated.  How else to explain that Apple declined to license the patent that Nissim demonstrated to them a year earlier.  But if it was really so obvious, I don't think it would be a highlight of a keynote.

    I still have a lot of money invested in Apple in shares and products, I do hope they're right on this.
    This is an inane rationale. It's highlighted because it's useful and simple. It's simple because it's obvious and it's useful because it's common. Apple highlight all manners of changes in their software and those changes or enhancements don't regularly correlate with their patent portfolio.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 631member
    williamh said:
    razormaid said:
    EsquireCats said:More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    Exactly what I was thinking too 
    If it was so obvious, why did Apple think that feature was worth highlighting when they introduced the new AppleTV?  Hey, Apple's lawyers must agree with you and will fight to have the patent invalidated.  How else to explain that Apple declined to license the patent that Nissim demonstrated to them a year earlier.  But if it was really so obvious, I don't think it would be a highlight of a keynote.

    I still have a lot of money invested in Apple in shares and products, I do hope they're right on this.
    This is an inane rationale. It's highlighted because it's useful and simple. It's simple because it's obvious and it's useful because it's common. Apple highlight all manners of changes in their software and those changes or enhancements don't regularly correlate with their patent portfolio.
    I wonder why Apple took 10 years to implement this obvious and common feature that none of my other devices have?  You're not making any sense.  Does Apple focus on the play/pause button or any other feature that every product has?
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 16 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,985member
    williamh said:
    razormaid said:
    EsquireCats said:More questionable is that this patent was ever granted, how is this unique or in anyway not obvious? Why is asking a computerised assistant to skip 20 seconds any different from asking a human assistant the same?
    Exactly what I was thinking too 
    If it was so obvious, why did Apple think that feature was worth highlighting when they introduced the new AppleTV?  Hey, Apple's lawyers must agree with you and will fight to have the patent invalidated.  How else to explain that Apple declined to license the patent that Nissim demonstrated to them a year earlier.  But if it was really so obvious, I don't think it would be a highlight of a keynote.

    I still have a lot of money invested in Apple in shares and products, I do hope they're right on this.
    This is an inane rationale. It's highlighted because it's useful and simple. It's simple because it's obvious and it's useful because it's common. Apple highlight all manners of changes in their software and those changes or enhancements don't regularly correlate with their patent portfolio.
    I would be at last a tad surprised if Apple had not in typical fashion at least filed for patents on some of the voice control features offered by Siri integration with Apple TV no matter how "obvious" some of us might consider some of it to be. I've read that in general they file for patents on nearly all software and hardware they feel they've come up with, tho some of those deservedly or not never get approved and some number of others even if approved are never actually used in an Apple product. 
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 17 of 23
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    appex said:
    "What did he say?". Or requiring word spelling... That only happens with English language, which is not phonetic.
    Correct. "Could you, please, spell your name" does not exist in Russian language. Not as a frequently used phrase, at least.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Patent No. 6,408,128 for "Replaying with supplementary information a segment of a video”
    A patent is a set of exclusivity rights to an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process. THIS IS NOT AN INVENTION. This patent, like so, SO many others, describes an idea rather than an implementation OF an idea. It’s 100% invalid. You can’t patent the EXISTENCE of a camera, for example, but you can patent a mechanism by which a camera does its job.
  • Reply 19 of 23

    If this is patentable, then could I file for a "method for ordering food when a person says they are hungry" or "a method for turning on lights when someone says 'I can't see'"?

    This would be like Thomas Edison filing for a patent on the light bulb, based not on thousands of experiments but on the vague notion that a hot filament would probably generate light.

    tallest skilcornchip
  • Reply 20 of 23
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,690member

    If this is patentable, then could I file for a "method for ordering food when a person says they are hungry" or "a method for turning on lights when someone says 'I can't see'"?

    This would be like Thomas Edison filing for a patent on the light bulb, based not on thousands of experiments but on the vague notion that a hot filament would probably generate light.

    If you could develop and patent a software-based solution to generate light, yes.
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