WiLAN, an intellectual property licensing company based in Canada and subsidiary of IPA Technologies Inc ("IPA"), has accused Google of infringement of six patents. The action was brought in the Delaware Federal Court, where it was alleged that Google have infringed patents relating to the voice-activated personal assistant, "Siri".
Effectively it is Apple behind the action, as it is Apple that is the beneficial owner of the rights to Siri. After acquiring those rights in April 2010, Apple made the personal digital assistant available as an app, and when it released the iPhone 4S, made it an integrated feature automatically installed on all new handsets.
WiLAN have asserted that Google knew about the patented technology through the prosecution of other patents and patent applications. Furthermore, they went on to explain that Google instructs its users on the use of the infringing products.
WiLAN have now challenged fifteen big technology companies with patent infringement issues relating to Siri. Those defendants include Sony, Microsoft and HTC. The cases are being dealt with at the US District Court of Delaware, under the authority of Judge Richard G. Andrews.
Other allegations were made in October 2016 when IPA brought infringement claims against Dell, HP, and Toshiba. after having the relevant patent for just five months. Those claims however were settled within weeks of their filing.
Although the Google case has not yet been assigned to a judge, it will be interesting to observe whether Google will settle the matter in the same way as Dell, HP and Toshiba before them. It can be commercially advantageous to settle, as it is generally cost effective and prevents a media circus forming around the litigation, which is normal in litigation between businesses of this size.
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