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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Patents Behind Siri Could Leave Apple Liable

(CN) - A Colorado company can pursue claims that the popular Siri feature available on newer Apple devices infringed on its patent, a federal judge ruled.

Potter Voice Technologies had sued Apple in Colorado about a year and a half ago, claiming that the Siri feature violates its 1998 patent on a "Method and Apparatus for Controlling a Digital Computer Using Oral Input."

The complaint named as defendants: Motorola, Google, Samsung, Sony, Research in Motion, and other major computer and device makers.

Apple had the claims against it severed and transferred to San Francisco where U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken refused Monday to dismiss the third amended complaint.

Potter takes aim at products containing Siri and Google Voice Search, according to the ruling.

It says that the inventors of the infringed upon patent worked for Siri Inc., which Apple acquired in 2010, three years after that company was spun off from SRI International.

Hoping to undermine Potter's claim that Apple willfully used knowledge and information protected by patent, Apple argued that the inventors would not have remembered the patent even though it was named as prior art in an information disclosure statement.

Wilken ultimately found that Potter had demonstrated "more than a sheer possibility that Apple was aware of the asserted patent."

The judge also refused to nix indirect infringement claims, which accuse Apple of encouraging and directing its customers to use the Siri and Google Voice Search feature on their iPhones and other Apple devices.

"Apple's argument that PVT never states in so many words that Apple 'intended' customers to infringe is incorrect, and is especially puzzling because the complaint Apple cites in contract actually mirrors PVT's complaint," Wilken wrote.

"By identifying the direct infringer, the mechanism by which Apple encouraged the infringement, and by stating that Apple intended for infringement to occur, PVT properly states a claim for induced infringement," the judge added.

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