back to article OK Google, er, Siri, um, Alexa, can you invalidate these digital assistant patents, please?

A coalition of tech giants has successfully convinced a US court to invalidate three patents covering tech at the heart of voice-controlled digital assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant. The fight, however, isn't over yet. Google, Microsoft and Amazon are being sued by patent-holding biz IPA Technologies in a long …

  1. FozzyBear Silver badge

    Google, Microsoft and Amazon, plus a patent troll,I don't think I will be alone in hoping that all of them lose.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Key point, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are all US companies. Had they been non-US, they might still have been able to strike some patents down, but only *after* being destroyed (or at least hollowed out) by those patents. C.f. NTP's attack on RIM.

  2. Sebastian A

    Ahhhh patents. Originally created to encourage innovation by protecting people who invested in new technologies, now stifling innovation by being used as blackmail tools against anyone trying to create new technologies.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Originally created to encourage innovation...

      Patents should be issued on a "Use it or Lose it" basis, rather than being treated as an investment instrument called into play when successful infringing products appear in view.

  3. HildyJ

    And here magic happens

    Software patents should only be granted if the patentee can produce working software. Putting a magic black box between well known inputs and outputs should not be patentable.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: And here magic happens

      Actually even then a patent related to SW should be rare. Also mathematics.

      There should be:

      1) No prior art

      2) A physical thing with software only to help implementation

      3) Non-trivial

      4) Innovative

      5) Not obvious to those versed in the art.

      6) Specific, not too broad or vague.

      Make it that USPTO gets more money for refused applications that successful ones. They have an incentive to accept and leave to plaintiffs in court to get it rejected/tested. Charge applicants for searches. Take notice of (1) outside USA.

      Design Patents (=UK registered design) is also broken in US.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: And here magic happens

        The problem is that a greater and greater number of things can be implemented purely via software, without reliance on hardware with any novel properties.

        For example, if you can't patent software then ALL RF related patents become invalid using DSPs and software defined radio. So no patents on ethernet, LTE, 5G, wifi, TV, satellite, bluetooth and so on.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: And here magic happens

      I like the EU attitude, software patents? Nah, that's copyright, now, bugger off and let us screw up some physical patents.

      1. Pat Att

        Re: And here magic happens

        Except that's not the European attitude: See the Guidelines

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. naive

    Patent trolling should be punishable by at least 10 years in an Alaskan jail

    If they put all the share holders of companies engaging in patent trolling in jail, this non-sense would end instantly.

    It would also prevent tech giants to kill off small innovative upstarts by dragging them into courts using these trolls as a vehicle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patent trolling should be punishable by at least 10 years in an Alaskan jail

      @naive they bought the original patents after they were already in use so they could sue their investment back. what is more appalling here is that USPO allowed the patents and that it took the money of M$/apple etc to fix.


      "The patents themselves have had an unusual journey. They were first registered by SRI International, a non-profit set up by Stanford University. SRI then set up a spinoff company called Siri, in an effort to get its speech-based tech into the market, and granted the new company a non-exclusive license to its patents. Apple then bought Siri – and permanent access to the patents - in 2010.

      But Canadian intellectual property licensing company, IPA Technologies (a subsidiary of WiLAN), saw an opportunity and bought the patents from SRI in 2016. Within six months it embarked on a legal campaign to make sure it got its money's worth, by suing everyone it could for patent infringement."

      1. naive

        Re: Patent trolling should be punishable by at least 10 years in an Alaskan jail

        Thank you for your very informative answer, that actually makes the point I want to make.

        This way of dealing with patents is way beyond what was initially intended with patent legislation.

        It used to be something to protect individuals with good ideas against copycats.

        Nowadays the ideas behind patent laws are distorted and abused by big companies, or other leeches, who do have the money to pay for patents, using this system to legally steal the ideas of others.

        But well, they do the same with our tax laws to evade them, so what is new. Moral and good manners don't sell these days, "be evil" is the mantra of the early 2000;s.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Patent trolling should be punishable by at least 10 years in an Alaskan jail

      "If they put all the share holders of companies engaging in patent trolling in jail, this non-sense would end instantly."

      Be careful what you wish for. If you have any investments such as a pension plan you might find that you are, indirectly, a shareholder. Or maybe your children if you invested in some saving fund on there behalf.

  6. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

    "Open the patent record office doors, Alexa."

    "I'm sorry, I cannot do that. I am not HAL and we are not in Prior Art space".

    (with apologies to Arthur C. Clarke, Dave Bowman and everybody's favourite homicidal computer system...)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Patents and copyright should be non-transferable, if the person who has the original idea/creative thought can't profit from it then it should become public proterty. Also they should both expire when the original creator dies.

    1. TechDrone

      Re: Non-transferable

      Inventor: Yay, I have a brilliant idea and a patent. And I've written the book/film/song to go with it.

      EvilCorp: We want to make something that uses your idea. Here's $10 for an unlimited licence.

      Inventor: It'll cost you more than that.

      EvilCorp: Ooops, you appear to have died. Your patent is now public domain.

    2. patentdefender

      Re: Non-transferable

      Wake up. Most patent inventors dont have the money to fight the Apple, Google, Amazons, Microsofts etc of the world. So by your theory the inventor would never get paid for his invention. Because that is all the behemoths do when they steal. Take it and stall it endle$$ly in the courts that they know the inventor doesnt have the money to battle.

      So an inventor has the choice to get zero or he can sell it to a patent company and actually GET SOME MONEY or even hire the patent company to figth for him, where they get part of the proceeds.

      Patent companies exists BECAUSE of all the patent stealing by the big boys. Its shameful and disgraceful how they steal from those who actually did the work to create something.

      And APPLE -- who also stores its money offshore not paying taxes -- is the biggest thief of all.

  8. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    On a computer

    "Striking down the patents, the judge cited a 2014 Supreme Court decision in which four patents owned by the Alice Corporation were ruled ineligible from protection because they covered abstract ideas and translating them to work on a computer was not seen as a patentable concept."

    Great! Can this judge now take a look at all those "but on a mobile device" patents?

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