Apple slapped with patent suit over Siri's natural language abilities

Posted:
in General Discussion
Non-practicing entity Portal Communications on Thursday filed suit against Apple for alleged infringement of three patents related to natural language voice and audio query systems, technology similar to that of the company's Siri virtual assistant.




In its filing with the patent holder friendly Eastern Texas District Court, Portal leverages three related patents invented by Dave Bernard, CEO of technology solutions firm The Intellection Group. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,376,645, 7,873,654 and 8,150,872, all titled "Multimodal natural language query system and architecture for processing voice and proximity-based queries," were transferred from The Intellection Group, Inc. to Portal Communications in January.

Each patent deals with methods of parsing user queries from natural language patterns into machine decipherable commands, whether they be voice or text. The IP details methods of further processing requests using GPS location data, or other proximity information, to provide a context and environment for narrowing down a response.

As a continuation of the '645 patent, the '654 IP tacks on server-related features like speech conversion modules. The '872 patent, itself a continuation-in-part of both preceding patents, adds an accuracy algorithm for ranking responses of a database lookup.

Portal alleges Siri infringes on each of the patents-in-suit, as the voice assistant is capable of understanding, or makes an attempt to understand, natural language queries. Apple's virtual assistant technology is implemented in part on device, as seen with features like "Hey Siri" and other onboard assets, though a bulk of Siri processing takes place on off-site servers.

Apple purchased Siri in 2010 when the software was available as a mobile assistant for iPhone. Initially based on Nuance voice recognition and natural language processing technology, Siri advertised its conversational attributes as one of the app's main draws.

Apple integrated Siri into its hardware lineup with iPhone 4S in 2011, some three years after the '645 patent was granted. Building on Siri's foundation, the company expanded the voice assistant's capabilities to cover device operations, and later installed the feature on other platforms including iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and, most recently, HomePod.

Siri in its most recent iteration is powered by Apple's in-house engines, which draw on artificial intelligence and deep neural networks to complete tasks.

Portal's complaint targets all iPhone and iPad models, a slew of Macs dating back to 2009, iPod touch, Apple Watch Series 3, the fourth-generation Apple TV, Apple TV 4K and HomePod.

Along with devices not compatible with Siri, including iPhones older than the 4S and iPads older than the third-generation model, the suit targets devices running iOS 3.1 or later, but does not specify what programs or technologies are in infringement. Siri debuted with iOS 5.

Portal's suit follows a similar complaint lodged last year by Word to Info, a one-man firm that began targeting major tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Nuance over alleged infringement of natural language processing IP.

In its suit, Portal seeks damages for infringement with interest, a trebling of damages, court expenses and a preliminary or permanent injunction against products found to infringe on the patents-in-suit.

Portal Communications Lawsuit Over Siri Tech by Mikey Campbell on Scribd

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Filed in "East Texas" says it all. Nothing more needs to be said.
    fotoformatAvieshekanton zuykovhorvaticdysamoriawatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 18
    BombdoeBombdoe Posts: 5member
    Would Portal Communications, or anyone else, really know the actual systems/processes that Siri uses to do its natural language analysis? Isn't this hidden on the device and off-site servers? Plus there would be more than one way to do this.
    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,990moderator
    I have just one question: what year did Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odysey hit theaters?

    (Answer: 1968) 

    Can you say “prior art in the public domain?”
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Bombdoe said:
    Would Portal Communications, or anyone else, really know the actual systems/processes that Siri uses to do its natural language analysis? Isn't this hidden on the device and off-site servers? Plus there would be more than one way to do this.
    There is soooo much that is being used to construct a simple response from Siri or any other advanced NLP machine.. I don't think Siri is powerful (yet) so it could be that there is something they're using that someone else is, good luck proving that though. What is most interesting is the updates Siri will get with iOS 12. Based on the investment of resources Apple has allocated in creating the neural net for FaceID, I expect a HUGE movement forward with Siri, a decent update to SiriKit. Look at WaveNet.. Google's deepmind is SO good and it's 2018. So this patent suit, relevant or not, it's talking about ancient tech
    Bombdoe
  • Reply 5 of 18
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 641member
    I have just one question: what year did Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odysey hit theaters?

    (Answer: 1968) 

    Can you say “prior art in the public domain?”
    2001 is art, but not prior art.  You can't patent an idea, you patent some actual implementation of an idea. It's a little weird to have this pop out like a decade after Siri was introduced, and the developers had it prior to that. It seems the Siri voice recognition was provided by Nuance and the rest of it was an offshoot from a DARPA project. (Kind of takes some of the shine off of DARPA, I'd say.)

    So where's the suit against Samsung Dixby?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    lmaclmac Posts: 177member
    Non-practicing entity=patent troll.
    tallest skilwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Problem: Apple doesn't own the speech recognition software used in Siri. It's owned by Nuance, derived from Dragon, licensed by Apple. Dragon's patents are far older than the patent troll's.

    The applicable part of Siri is database traversal and response technology. From what I can tell, that's not part of the lawsuit.

    Get lost patent troll.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    williamh said:
    I have just one question: what year did Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odysey hit theaters?

    (Answer: 1968) 

    Can you say “prior art in the public domain?”
    2001 is art, but not prior art.  You can't patent an idea, you patent some actual implementation of an idea. It's a little weird to have this pop out like a decade after Siri was introduced, and the developers had it prior to that. It seems the Siri voice recognition was provided by Nuance and the rest of it was an offshoot from a DARPA project. (Kind of takes some of the shine off of DARPA, I'd say.)

    So where's the suit against Samsung Dixby?
    Ideas are patented all the time. There are so many patents with simple ideas and a few scratched flowcharts that have been accepted. On the opposite end, Apple includes a lot of technical information in their patents and it doesn't help them against the bogus patents filed before them. 

    Looking at the first patent, they include prior art in their description,"Typical efforts to implement voice-based user interaction in a support and information retrieval context may be seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,526, to Fawcett et al. (Sep. 1, 1998)." In other words, they are saying someone else came up with the same or nearly the same idea yet these guys got the USPTO to patent their idea. This happens all the time but of course East Texas geniuses will favor the NPE because they hate Apple.
  • Reply 9 of 18
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    williamh said:
    I have just one question: what year did Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odysey hit theaters?

    (Answer: 1968) 

    Can you say “prior art in the public domain?”
    You can't patent an idea, you patent some actual implementation of an idea
    If that was the case, patent trolls would not have existed as a class. Some patented - "audio communications via computer network" , later trying to sue apple for implementing facetime calls.
    It is not an implementation. It is an idea, similar to "moving space around, along with its contents" being an idea for teleporting.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    lmac said:
    Non-practicing entity=patent troll.
    I don’t agree. Patents granted are like anything else. They either have value or are a liability. With this lawsuit the patent holder will find out if the patent in question is valuable through litigation. This is about commerce.
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 11 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    rob53 said:
    williamh said:
    I have just one question: what year did Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odysey hit theaters?

    (Answer: 1968) 

    Can you say “prior art in the public domain?”
    2001 is art, but not prior art.  You can't patent an idea, you patent some actual implementation of an idea. It's a little weird to have this pop out like a decade after Siri was introduced, and the developers had it prior to that. It seems the Siri voice recognition was provided by Nuance and the rest of it was an offshoot from a DARPA project. (Kind of takes some of the shine off of DARPA, I'd say.)

    So where's the suit against Samsung Dixby?
    Ideas are patented all the time. There are so many patents with simple ideas and a few scratched flowcharts that have been accepted. On the opposite end, Apple includes a lot of technical information in their patents and it doesn't help them against the bogus patents filed before them. 

    Looking at the first patent, they include prior art in their description,"Typical efforts to implement voice-based user interaction in a support and information retrieval context may be seen in U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,526, to Fawcett et al. (Sep. 1, 1998)." In other words, they are saying someone else came up with the same or nearly the same idea yet these guys got the USPTO to patent their idea. This happens all the time but of course East Texas geniuses will favor the NPE because they hate Apple.
    That’s just not how things work. Ideas are not patentable. An “expression” of an idea (in other words, something tangible) is patentable.

    And lawsuits filed in East Texas usually being favorable to the party filing the suit is just a smart move on their part. Why would anyone file a patent infringement suit anywhere else? 
    edited March 2018
  • Reply 12 of 18
    horvatichorvatic Posts: 120member
    Interesting that they target Apple and not Amazon for Alexa which does the same things and more. Shows you they are only interested in money and not the technology. These suits should be thrown out if a company does not actually have any products.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    horvatic said:
    Interesting that they target Apple and not Amazon for Alexa which does the same things and more. Shows you they are only interested in money and not the technology. These suits should be thrown out if a company does not actually have any products.
    Of course they’re interested in money. LOL! Businesses exist to make a profit.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,585member
    Filed in "East Texas" says it all. Nothing more needs to be said.
    It’s past time that we give Texas back to its rightful owners - Mexico!

    Its also past time for the Feds to shut down the intellectually bankrupt East Texas Court.
    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    I think the NPE walked right into this one—there is prior art…from Apple itself:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlainTalk#Speech_recognition

    This is from way back in 1993.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,980member
    "Non-practicing entity". You mean Patent Troll. Just effing say it like it is.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    dysamoria said:
    "Non-practicing entity". You mean Patent Troll. Just effing say it like it is.
    “NPE” is more accurate. “Patent troll” is a loaded, biased term.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    freerange said:
    Filed in "East Texas" says it all. Nothing more needs to be said.
    It’s past time that we give Texas back to its rightful owners - Mexico!

    Its also past time for the Feds to shut down the intellectually bankrupt East Texas Court.
    If you think that jury like that only exist in East Texas - think again! 
    edited March 2018
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