Apple’s Siri and Applebot targeted in voice-activated web search patent lawsuit


Patent holding company Parus Holdings filed a lawsuit last week claiming that Apple’s voice assistant Siri infringes owned patents relating to methods of searching the Internet with voice-activated devices.

Filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Parus’ complaint operates a pair of patents covering “robust and highly reliable” systems for searching the web with voice-activated devices, techniques allegedly violated by Siri.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges infringement of US Patents Nos. 6 721 705 and 8 185 402, both titled “Robust Voice Navigator System and Voice Activated Device Controller”. The ‘705 patent was filed in 2001 by Webley Systems and subsequently granted in 2004, while intellectual property related to the’ 402 patent dates back to 2001. Parus took control of the patents in 2004.

The ‘705 and’ 402 patents detail methods of accessing web pages and online information via a maintained database, and then classify said data for presentation to a user on a corded or wireless handset. The search is performed via natural voice voice commands which are accepted by the system and converted into data messages for processing. Embodiments also describe browsing websites with voice commands.

Interestingly, the main claims in the ‘705 patent outline systems to control home appliances such as security cameras, lighting, and televisions via voice, another feature of Siri. These claims are not claimed in immediate action.

When IP was invented, mobile devices were in their infancy, according to the complaint. Due to the limited processing, connectivity and web design capabilities at the time, inventors Alexander Kurganov and Valery Zhukoff developed a new approach to “detect changes to websites and adapt to such changes in order to quickly and accurately provide information requested by a user through a voice activated device. “

Apple’s Siri works similarly to the designs detailed in Leverage IP, according to the complainants. The voice assistant allows users to interact via voice commands and therefore query a database of websites. The highest ranked result is then converted into an audio message for the user. Additionally, Siri relies on web crawlers like Applebot, Bing, and Google to probe a wide variety of websites, according to the lawsuit.

Parus qualifies all Siri-compatible devices, from iPhone to Mac to HomePod, as counterfeit instruments. The plaintiff seeks damages and legal costs in his complaint.


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