TYLER, Texas – Siri may be hearing the inside of a courtroom in the near future after Dot 23 filed a patent-violation suit against Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, over the voice-recognition and voice-dialing technology.
In the suit filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Dot 23, headquartered in Texas, alleged that three of its patents were violated by the California corporation. Apple, however, said that the filing of the patent-violation case was the first the company had heard of the patents.
Besides Apple’s lack of knowledge about the original patent, the length of Dot 23’s patents is also unclear.
“It can be a bit tricky as the law has changed a few times in the last 30 years, which creates a few different possibilities of how long a patent lasts, and time can be added because of patent term delays,” Vera Ranieri, patent-reform staff attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s intellectual property team, told the Northern California Record.
Before Siri's fate is determined, Dot 23's case must pass the four-factor test before the disuse of a product due to patent infringements is implemented, as indicated in the Supreme Court case eBay v. Mercexchange. This includes providing evidence that a company has suffered beyond repair, that receiving monetary funds will not cover the money that has been lost due to the infringement, that equity would provide relief, and that the public would not greatly feel the results of any injunction.
Appleinsider.com also noted that Apple uses geolocation hardware for Siri, while Dot 23 uses a cell tower for its patents. This difference in technology may be enough to win Apple the case, as Siri does not directly follow Dot 23's technology, and thus may not actually infringe on Dot 23's patent. The final say, however, will ultimately be up to Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who has recently been appointed to the case.
“Whether or not, if Dot 23 wins, they will be able to get Apple to stop using Siri is a question that would be decided by the court," Ranieri said. “A short answer is that it is unlikely that Dot 23 could prevent Apple from using Siri if Dot 23 doesn't actually create any products that compete with Apple. More likely is that Dot 23 would just be awarded damages and/or an ongoing royalty."
The hearing for the case has yet to be set.