California Intellectual Property Blog


#Siri #Patent Infringement Settlement to Cost #Apple $24.9M

apple-storeLos Angeles – Apple has agreed to pay out $24.9 million to settle a lawsuit that has dragged on for years. The lawsuit is alleging that its Siri voice assistant technology violated a patent licensed to a Dallas company and owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The Dallas company, Dynamic Advances, was the exclusive licensee of Rensselaer’s patent.

Dynamic Advances does not mention what exactly it does with all of the patents it has licensed; however, it appears the company is a non-practicing entity also know as a patent troll. There is no further information about the company’s operations or history that has been revealed at this point. Under the terms of the agreement, Dynamic Advances’ parent company, Marathon Patent Group, will receive $5 million from Apple as soon as Dynamic Advances drops its case. In exchange, Apple will receive a patent license and a promise that they will not be sued again for the next three years over this issue. The remaining $19.9 million will be paid after later conditions are met.

Dynamic Advances suggested that about half of its gross proceeds will probably go to New York state’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The contended patent was originally developed by an Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor, Cheng Hsu, and Veera Boonjing, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute doctoral student, but licensed exclusively to Dynamic Advances. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has not, however, agreed to the royalty rate proposed in the settlement. The contended U.S. patent in this case is only one of several in Apple’s pile of ongoing worldwide litigation. It covers one of Siri’s main features, conversational interaction, titled “Natural language interface using constrained intermediate dictionary of results.”

The patent in question was issued in 2007, four years before Apple debuted Siri in 2011. In that same year, Rensselaer licensed the patent to Dynamic Advances. The lawsuit dates back to October 2012, almost exactly a year after Apple introduced Siri with iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S.

Apple has since brought Siri support to all of its iOS product lines, as well as the Apple TV, though the technology is still conspicuously absent from Mac computers.

The case was supposed to go to trial next month in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York, but was stopped short with this new settlement.


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