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Taiwan University Sues Apple Over Siri Patents 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-good-for-the-goose dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters is reporting that Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University has filed a suit against Apple claiming patent infringement by the Siri voice-recognition software. At issue are two patents dating to 2007 and 2010. From the article: 'The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, on Friday, it said. "We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes faster and its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners and the compensations are usually higher," said Yama Chen, legal manager of National Cheng Kung, in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan.'"
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Taiwan University Sues Apple Over Siri Patents

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  • ....and in other news...
  • by macbeth66 (204889) on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:08AM (#40818227)

    It is nice when ugly corporations get hoisted by their own sack.

    • Sure, but the 'little guy' i.e. smaller businesses still get screwed by an unjust system.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And so it goes

  • by sycodon (149926) on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:19AM (#40818321)

    "We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes faster and its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners and the compensations are usually higher..."

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I just said the same thing aloud. There is something worth noting here about full disclosure of intent that the rest of the 'civilized' world should have learned a long time ago.

    • by Grond (15515)

      It's not actually true, though. The Eastern District of Texas is not the fastest district for patent cases. Virginia Eastern and Wisconsin Western are both significantly faster (29 months to jury trial versus 12 and 13 months, respectively). Nor are its rulings "usually" (i.e. more often than not) in favor of patent owners. These days it's about average, relative to other popular patent litigation districts.

      And given the change in the law of venue I'd be surprised if the case stayed in Texas Eastern. N

      • Faster, not fastest. At least as I understood it he was talking about a reason why they chose Texas over - for example - California, where Apple is based. (disclosure: I haven't RTFA'd yet, or know how often California judges in favour of patent holders)

  • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:22AM (#40818339)

    Maybe Chinese patent trolls will eventually alert US patent supporters to how stupid the system is.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As long as the Chinese patent trolls are hiring US lawyers to do their suing in the US courts they're contributing to the US (legal) economy and all's good, yes?

  • that people would invent their own stuff...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    (Pun intended.)

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:47AM (#40818625)

    I really wish everyone would get over the idea that East Texas is still the best place to file patent suits. It definitely was for about a year in the mid-2000s, but since then it's returned back to within a few percentage points of the national average.

    The percentage of patent cases where the plaintiff succeeded at trial was, over the period from 1995-2009, in line with the national average [pwc.com] (66.7% trial success in East Texas vs. 66% nationwide), and by all indications it hasn't changed from that in the last few years (as a point of comparison, Florida Middle District Court had an 80% trial success rate for plaintiffs over that same period). Aside from the one-year blip where plaintiffs won more frequently and the district deservedly earned its reputation, its rates have been at levels that are in line with other district courts. Unfortunately, most people seem to have not caught on to that fact yet (even Wikipedia's sources regarding much of this stuff is several years out of date).

    Because of that one year blip being so noteworthy, there is still a mistaken perception that the East Texas courts are plaintiff friendly, but that's all it is now: a perception. In fact, for NPEs (i.e. non-practicing entities, a.k.a. patent trolls), the Florida Middle District and the Delaware District courts had overall success rates (i.e. including summary judgments) that were about 11% and 7% higher, respectively, than East Texas over the period from 1995-2009.

    That said, the East Texas courts do make for an ideal venue for trying patent cases, even if they're not as one-sided as people seem to think. The district has faster turnaround times than many other federal districts (which was part of the motivating factor in this particular case), the judges are well-versed in patent cases and have indicated an interest in handling them expeditiously, and there are local laws permitting lawyers from any bar association, not just the Texas bar, from trying their cases there, making it easier to use than some of the other districts.

    The fact that the judges are knowledgeable is especially important, because many of the corporations being sued prefer to have their cases tried there, rather than getting them transferred to their home district where an ignorant judge can add a major level of uncertainty to the equation (in fact, in one case involving 112 defendants less than a year ago, the East Texas judge was able to dismiss 99 of the defendants immediately because they weren't infringing and didn't request transfers to other districts). As a result, more cases that start in the district tend to stay in the district than you might otherwise see, creating a larger volume of cases that reach a conclusion. So, not only does it handle more cases, but it also concludes more cases than most of the other district courts.

    It's just a shame that people are still perpetuating the idea that it's plaintiff-friendly when it's not, since it sets up East Texas as a distraction and as a scapegoat to vent our frustrations over the patent system whenever a ruling we disagree with comes out of there. The fault isn't theirs any more than it is any other court's. It's the fault of the corporations playing this billion dollar game with each other.

    (Note: much of this was pulled from a previous comment of mine [slashdot.org] from February)

    • They said it's because : It's faster, and they will be paid an amount of compensation more in line with their loss because the court understands the real value

      So according to what you said above their reasons are valid?

      They already assume that winning the case if a given...filing in a US court against a US company means they think they have a strong case ...

      • They made a third claim that you've conveniently neglected to mention, that "its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners", and that's the one I take issue with. Regarding the other two, that it's faster and that compensation tends to be higher, I have no issues.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If, due to its notoriety, East Texas attracts more iffy cases, than the win rate being the same as the national average would be a big win for the plaintiff. Now that's an unsubstantiated "if", but the point is that the win rate by itself is insufficient to show that it is not plaintiff friendly due to potential selection bias.

    • by Warhawke (1312723) on Monday July 30, 2012 @12:25PM (#40819077)

      Actually, and essentially in support of your conclusion although contrary to your opening, the Eastern District of Texas - while the margin is narrowing - is still much friendlier to patent plaintiffs than a strong majority of other districts. Or, specifically, it would be more fair to say the E.D.Tex. is not horrendously biased to favor the defendant, like several other districts. Most of it boils down to the Local Patent Rules. For example, E.D.Tex. allows for very liberal amendments of initial infringement contentions. In layman's terms this means that a patent-holder can sue an alleged infringer with "well-formed" suspicion that the defendant's product is allegedly infringing, go into discovery, and then determine the details as to whether or not the product is actually infringing based on evidence. In districts like the Northern District of California, the local patent rules expressly prohibit this behavior, requiring that the plaintiff have essentially absolute proof that the defendant's product is infringing before being able to move to the discovery phase.

      While N.D.Cal's strict rules cut down on troll litigation, it does become a problem for plaintiffs when the details of how a defendant's product works is only available to the defendant: for example, closed-source software or secret formulas or recipes not available to the public. While software patents aren't treated well here on Slashdot, what this would allow someone to do is to copy line for line someone else's code, resell it, and then have total immunity in the Northern District of California from patent infringement (and good luck proving copyright infringement when you don't have access to the source code...). The Eastern District of Texas (specifically Judge Ward of said district) realized the potential problem for abuse and thus created a standing order to modify the Local Patent Rules and allow for more liberal discovery. Good for plaintiffs (troll and honest) who are attempting to prove infringement, bad for defendants (honest and infringing) who now lose shelter and have to deal with costly discovery.

      The problem is two-fold. First, the dichotomy between local patent rules across federal districts completely destroys the concept of "one body of federal law." It encourages forum shopping, which is exactly what we're seeing here where a plaintiff chooses where to file suit in a place most favorable to him (thus theoretically unbalancing the concept of a fair and impartial trial). Second, it encourages patent trolls to flock to a district and abuse the system. In a perfect world, discovery would be allowed and initial infringement contentions could be modified, but anyone found to be patent trolling would be liable for attorney's fees and damages if discovery proved senseless litigation or the patent was invalidated (or hell, I'd just make a rule where you have to actually manufacture the patented product to have a claim for damages... none of this treating IP like physical property where you have an arbitrary right to exclude). In reality, it causes people to see the ratking of patent trolls form in E.D.Tex, and everyone blames the system there for supporting patent trolls and praises draconian districts like N.D.Cal for arbitrarily (and contrary to federal mandate) favoring defendants.

      As more patent trolls flood in, the win-margin is narrowing, because even the Eastern District of Texas tires of senseless lawsuits. But the rules are still much more favorable to plaintiffs in those districts, and any patent lawyer worth his salt is going to find a way to establish personal jurisdiction in that district.

      • I just wanted to say thanks, even if you are contradicting something I said. Yours is just a great response, and it's one of my small pleasures in life to have people respond as thoughtfully and carefully to something I've said as you did, since I love having my misconceptions corrected or having additional information provided for something I've said. Comments like yours are why I come to Slashdot. :)

        Thanks again.

        (Just in case: this is not sarcastic. I'm being sincere.)

        • by Warhawke (1312723)
          Rest assured we can celebrate the cooperative effort to eradicate all forms of trolls. Cheers! :)
      • by Kaenneth (82978)

        Federal cases should be assigned to courts via lottery; more fair, equally inconvenient for both parties.

  • It all started with Apple settling name dispute over iPad with Chinese company. That set the precedence for other East Asian companies to follow the suit. There was already suit for Chinese "snow leopard" name, some other bogus one, and now this... I am not siding with any side, but that sounds like leaching on potentially easy settlement money...

  • Applicable sayings (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dskoll (99328)

    "What goes around comes around"

    "Karma's a bitch"

  • by Mr Krinkle (112489) on Monday July 30, 2012 @11:54AM (#40818715) Homepage

    So now we've even outsourced our patent trolls? When will it end.

    that said, this could get interesting, and lets go super conspiracy theory.
    Patent troll sues Apple, Apple "settles" which gives legitimacy to said patent troll.
    Patent troll uses that legitimacy to get injunctions against all other smart phones that use voice.
    Apple wins.

    Damn it.

    • How, pray tell, is a university a patent troll?
      • If you consider Apple a patent troll (some on slashdot do), then yes a university can be considered a patent troll too. But only if you consider Apple a patent troll.

        • I always thought that there was a difference between patent trolls and actual innovators; it depends on whether they put any effort into creating stuff. Apple has patents on a few innovations of their own, and patents on really obvious stuff that shouldn't have been granted a patent in the first place. A university (especially a public one like NCKU) is not as profit-driven as corporations (or so I believe). A patent troll exists solely by holding patents on stuff they did not invent themselves. By this met
          • Since I couldn't find the actual patents in my 45 seconds of looking, (yes I'm lazy) I'm not sure if they are what I would consider "valid" patents or more of the blatant "on a phone" type patents.
            I also did zero research to see what NCKU was, and whether it was a "proper uni" or if it was a "for profit" type uni.

            BUT to me, a patent troll is someone that has a patent for 5 years, does nothing with it, then sues someone that made a successful device. Once more information is available, maybe the joke won't

            • Ah, I see your point now. I'm hoping to read about the actual patent itself, since it's conspicuously missing from the news. I'll just wait and see. No hard feelings. :)
  • > "We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes
    > faster and its rulings are usually in favor of patent owners and
    > the compensations are usually higher,""

    Holy bloviators, Dark Knight! A lawyer who told the undistorted truth!

  • Yama Chen obviously doesn't understand the first rule of Fight Club.

    Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted.

  • Easy win for Apple (Score:4, Informative)

    by oergiR (992541) on Monday July 30, 2012 @02:23PM (#40820413)

    Disclaimer: I'm not a patent lawyer, but I do know a thing or two about speech recognition. I've only read the summaries of the patents, but they don't seem to cover anything that Siri or any other sensible speech recogniser system does.

    Patent 7,266,496 (from 2007) is about a complete speech recogniser on a chip. This couldn't be further from Siri, which sends the audio data to the cloud to be recognised. The four "modules" that the patent covers are bog-standard. Patent 7,707,032 (from 2010) describes a silly way of doing speech recognition (by comparing with individual training samples) and is unrelated to any modern commercial speech recogniser.

    This is just some Taiwanese university hoping for two minutes of fame and a settlement. They seem to be getting their fame, but they're not going to see any money.

    • by rogerz (78608)

      [Do over with my real user name - I hate being anonymous]

      You are correct. And, not only is the '496 patent about an ASIC implementation of ASR, but it also uses the same ancient dynamic time warping approach to matching as does the '032. What is more, there is no chance at all that the plaintiff could have the slightest reason to believe that Apple (really, Nuance/Dragon) is using this approach. This case should be tossed out immediately.

      The problem with our patent system is not the idea of "intellectual pr

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:37PM (#40821253)

    The normal defence for companies being sued for patent infringement is to find a breach of their own patent portfolio by the suer's products, then settle out of court.

    It kindof assumes that the entity bringing the case makes commercial products themselves. Entities that don't are basically untouchable, which is why patent trolls avoid selling actual products.

    Its going to be very hard for apple to find a quid-pro-quo breach by a university.

  • I don't know what you mean by "pat ant in fringe meant." Would you like to search the web for 'picture of a stallion'? [youtube.com]

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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