The Patent used by SpeakWare to sue Apple with for Patent Infringement in July is now being challenged to invalidate it
In July SpeakWare Inc. sued Apple, Samsung and Microsoft for patent infringement. The NPE (Non-Practicing Entity; better known as a patent troll) is suing up to five Silicon Valley companies over digital assistants used to control devices or appliances.
In regards to Apple, the lawsuit states: "Apple has developed, manufactured, imported, offered for sale, sold, and used voice-activated systems for controlling appliances that infringe the '186 patent. These systems include Apple iPhones (6s or later), iPads (6th generation or later and "Pro"), and HomePods, all of which use Apple's voice-activated virtual assistant, Siri, to control appliances. These systems can also include associated servers owned or controlled by Apple that enable and work in connection with the accused devices to control appliances. These systems can also include Apple TVs, which work in connection with the accused devices to control appliances."
A non-practicing entity (NPE) is someone who holds a patent for a product or process but has no intentions of developing it.
A patent troll is one type of non-practicing entity. Patent trolls amass large numbers of patents with the intention of launching patent infringement suits against companies and individuals that they maintain have illegally used some element of something for which they hold the patent.
On Friday "Unified Patents" informed Patently Apple that the patent used in the SpeakWare patent was being formally challenged on appeal in an effort to invalidate it. If invalidated, the lawsuit against Apple would have to be dismissed.
The note that we received by Unified Patents stated that "Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 6,397,186 owned and operated by SpeakWare, Inc., an NPE. The ’186 patent, directed to a voice-operated remote control transmitter that activates and operates remote appliances, has been asserted against Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung Electronics. The Petition was filed on December 27th.
Unified Patents is a member-based organization whose goal is to deter patent trolls from asserting poor quality patents in certain technology zones through a number of strategies. Unified collects annual fees from its members to fund its activities.
While Unified Patents has been criticized for being and acting as a hired mercenary that destroys the U.S. patent system, any company whose goal is to challenge patent troll patents acquired for the sole purposes of extorting money from top tech companies is a needed counter balance in the patent system.
Unified Patents was founded in San Francisco in 2012 by Kevin Jakel and Brian Hinman. Mr. Jakel is the former head of intellectual property litigation at Intuit. Since 2012, Unified has grown to more than 60 members including Google, Facebook, Mastercard, Nissan, Redhat, Salesforce, Tesla, Adobe and more.
Below is Unified Patent's petition before the U.S. Patent Office's Appeal board regarding the SpeakWare patent that is being used to sue Apple (and others) with.
Petition before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
Unified Patents Petition Against SpeakWare .patent.. by Jack Purcher on Scribd