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Assistant Siri assits Troll to win Apple

Source: Grill IP patents news


When Apple just announced the speaking assistant Siri on iPhone everyone was just delighted. Indeed, the smartphone talker cracked jokes and entertained surprised users so, that many thought – nicely done, Apple! They can do anything. But well-informed people know that Siri had not been invented by programmers from Cupertino. To be exact, the two scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York multidisciplinary training center of technology and research, had invented this technology. Back in 1998, two specialists from the center, Dr. Cheng Hsu and research fellow Veera Boonjing, had started and successfully completed a development of a learning assistant, who can give advice when navigating in an extensive electronic catalogs of the University. After completing the development the scientists had used the usual for this type of innovations way: they had applied for a patent and received the patent certificate number 7,177,798 in 2000 from the USPTO. If only managers from Apple could have had the wit to sign an agreement on the use of the patent, the whole thing would not be worth a dime. But the opposite had happened, the specialists from Cupertino had decided that they would implement this idea in audio form without the involvement of scientists from New York’s Polytechnic University. That is, in the original development of New Yorkers assistant had given answers to questions in written form, and you usually had asked iPhone directly through a microphone. But the patent also had mentioned such an option, although no details had been given.

Long 15 years have passed since the receiving of the patent and Apple people somehow forgot which technology they took to develop the Siri application. Moreover, the assistant has been installed in the basic package of applications and users have already accustomed to it.

But then came the Groundhog day. The Rensselaer Institute decided to monetize its intellectual portfolio and invited as partners for this procedure two very interesting people. They were Spangenberg couple – Erich and his wife Audrey. The couple has gotten a very mixed reputation even among patent trolls. Even in this dark community they were called pirates for their ruthlessness and the ability to squeeze the most out of their victims. Their Texas law company TQP, in which there were only two employees (the husband and the wife), was legendary. Hundreds of companies shudder at the memories and most of them agreed to pay a lot of money to the lawyers from Dalles. But for the process against Apple, the giant of the world’s high-tech, the Spangenberg family decided to organize a separate company, Dynamic Advances, thinking it would be more secure. At first, to be exact in 2012, when the first lawsuit was filed, this decision did not help, and the Texas lawyers decided to get under an umbrella of an even stronger partner, namely Marathon Patent Group. As a result, Eric Spangenberg became a partner in Marathon, and received a huge share – more than 17% of the public shares of the company.

Such a merger gave its benefits: a carefully planned strategy and powerful tactical moves such as engaging as experts for the legal procedures two scientists from the Polytechnic University, led to a magnificent result for the Texas company. For Apple, though, this result was much more than disappointing. Apple now has to pay $ 50 million as repayment. Of these, 50% goes to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the rest (if only 24.9 million dollars can be called “a residue”) to the lawyers from Texas . So Siri assisted the trolls to get a very considerable amount of money and, as we can see, it does not matter which reforms within the existing government structures has been implemented. Troll is always a troll.

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Author: grill-ip

Grill IP is a non-profit project for educational and entertaining purposes only. Our aim is to provide quick and easy access to aggregated and original patent news, IP analysis, interesting business cases in IP, basic legal updates and a list of patent transactions.

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