RPI has a date with Siri in federal court

Siri, who invented you? Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's claim that one of its professors invented
A user holding an iPhone 4S running Siri October 28, 2011.
A user holding an iPhone 4S running Siri October 28, 2011.

Siri, who invented you?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s claim that one of its professors invented the technology behind the Siri voice recognition app in Apple’s iPhone is going before a jury in May, four years after its lawsuit against the tech giant was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany.

A jury trial will start May 2 in federal court in Syracuse. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Peebles will preside over the trial, expected to last 10 days.

RPI has claimed that professor Cheng Hsu invented the voice recognition technology that Siri is based on more than 15 years ago and filed a patent for it in 2000.

The actual Siri app was a spinoff of a Department of Defense artificial intelligence project at SRI International, the research institute started by Stanford University. Apple bought it reportedly for about $200 million in 2010.

RPI shares its patent rights with a public company called Marathon Patent Group. RPI has claimed that the lawsuit could be worth $120 million or more if it were to win.

Apple, which has fought the lawsuit for years, did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Marathon declined comment on the case or the trial when contacted Thursday. An RPI spokeswoman could not be reached.

RPI said in 2014 that it could be in line for a jury award similar to the $120 million Apple won from Samsung that year,

“In that lawsuit, Apple accused Samsung of infringing several Apple patents, including two patents that cover Siri,” RPI said in a 2014 court filing. “Apple sought and obtained a preliminary injunction and a $120 million jury verdict against Samsung based primarily on Siri’s importance to Apple in its global competition against Samsung’s Android-operated smartphones.”

Much of the case has been blocked from public view to keep sensitive information about Apple’s business practices and technology out of the hands of competitors. Many documents filed in the case are sealed by the court entirely. RPI has sought to have the trial held in Albany to no avail.

Parts of the trial may also be closed to the public for the same reasons, according to documents.

RPI believes that it may be owed royalties on every question asked of Siri or on every Apple device sold with the Siri system, according to court documents. The iPhone 4s was launched in the fall of 2011. Siri has been loaded onto all subsequent iPhones.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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