Michele Masterson

Siri, Google Voice, Others Targeted In Federal Patent Lawsuit

While Apple has been the target of two class action lawsuits disputing the functionality of Siri, it now has a bigger headache in the form of a suit brought by Potter Voice Technologies LLC claiming patent infringement.

Brighton, Colo.-based Potter names 15 defendant companies in total, and cites technologies from Apple, Google Voice, Microsoft’s Windows Speech in a federal patent lawsuit for allegedly infringing upon a 14-year-old patent that covers technology used in electronic products that rely on voice commands to control computer functions. A slew of cell phone manufacturers that use the companies’ technology are also cited, including LG, Samsung, Research In Motion, HTC, Nokia, and Sony.

At issue is U.S. patent, number 5,729,659, issued to Jerry Potter in 1998, “Method And Apparatus For Controlling A Digital Computer Using Oral Input” which cites the use of oral input and natural language.

In the case of Apple, the lawsuit says that, “SRI International originally created and developed the product Siri. On information and belief, SRI International spun off Siri, Inc., in 2007. On information and belief, Defendant Apple acquired Siri, Inc. in April, 2010. Defendant Apple knew of the ’659 patent and its contents when it acquired Siri, Inc. from SRI International.”

“Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Voice Actions make cell phones and other electronic devices much more useful for customers, but those products and others would never have been possible if not for the technology embodied in Potter’s patent,” said Christopher Banys, a lawyer with Lanier Law Firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., which is representing Potter. “The defendants have collected a fortune using Potter’s technology, and we are asking the court for at least a reasonable royalty based on their unauthorized use.”