Apple pays $24.9 million to settle Siri based patent infringement allegation – who else could be at risk?

Apple has agreed to pay out $24.9 million to the Dynamic Advances, licensee of US7177798, Natural language interface using constrained intermediate dictionary of results, which they allege that Apple infringes with its Siri voice command tool.


Patent infringement is beyond the realm of Ambercite, but our Cluster Searching tools can in a very short period of time answer two key questions in this case:

  • Is there are any relevant prior art, not cited by the USPTO, which should be considered by anybody trying to invalidate this patent?
  • Who else might be at risk of a patent infringement suit by the patent licensee?

We might answer the first question first.


What other prior art should be considered?

Patent citations are those listed by examiners or applicants in relation to a patent. If we look up this patent say using Google patent, 76 patent citations are listed.
All of these patent citations have been presumably considered by the examiner in their decision to grant the patent. But this in tyurns raises a couple of questions

1) 76 patents is a lot – if you were short of time, which patents would you start with?
2) What other patents could you also consider?

Both of these questions can be answered in a matter of seconds by entering the patent number in Cluster Searching, as shown below

The resulting query looks like this:


In this case, we used a Filing Date filter set to May 2001 as this was the filing date of the patent.

The most similar five patents are shown below:



Note that the 5th column in is “Similarity”, our metric of how similar the found patents are to the asserted patent. The patents are listed from the most similar patent downwards

The second to last column shown in “Citation”. In these results there are two types of citation”

Known citations– one of the 76 known prior art citations for this patent. It follows from this that the highest ranked , i.e. the predicted to be most similar patent, is US5794050 for a Natural language understanding system – followed by US7050977.

Unknown citations – These are predicted to be similar patents not recognised as prior art by the examiners or applicants – but in many cases they are. Heading this list are

  • US5727950, Agent based instruction system and method, which to be honest is not a perfect match, although there are similarities
  • US6233559 Speech control of multiple applications using applets, which starts to become quite relevant.

Note that these patents listed are only the start of a long list. Just like any conventional patent search* not all will be 100% relevant, but many will.

(*have you ever run a keyword based search and been returned some results which were not 100% relevant? You too?)


Who else may be at risk of assertion for this patent?

This is a very similar process to the prior art search – except that we are looking for patents filed after the filing date of the asserted patent. Also we might need to return a few more than 50 results. The resulting query is shown below:



The list below shows the most similar patents – including a combination of known forward citation, and other patents not listed as a forward citation – but still likely to be important.


Of note, the 6th column is Licensing Potential, which considers both the commercial potential of the forward citation as well as its similarity to the asserted patent.

These values can be added, both to work out the “Net Licensing Potential” of the asserted patent, and also the most likely licensing prospects.  But to do this, we might need a qualifying criteria:

  • Forward citation Patents to be included in this analysis need to
  • Have a minimum similarity of 2
  • Not be owned by the patent owner or licensee

The results in this table can be downloaded into a spreadsheet , and the net Licensing Potential calculated.

In this case, we calculate the net Licensing Potential to be 779.3 – a very impressive figure and suggestive of a very valuable patent.

But it is the leading companies in the forward citation network that are perhaps of most interest, as shown below:


Many of these companies are immediately recognisable (IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon) while others may need an introduction:

Nuance Communication is developing speech and imaging applications
• VCVC III LLC could be a patent holding company – and shares a business address with Intellectual Ventures.
Veveo “is pioneering technologies that enable natural interfaces that support true conversational capabilities for connected devices and applications.”, and is now owned by Rovi Corporation

For each of these patent owners, it is possible to work out which patent of theirs is most similar to the asserted patent – for example for Microsoft this is US8289283 Language input interface on a device


What next?

The simple analysis, which can be prepared quickly and objectively, show what is possible with advanced patent analytics. Cluster Searching is now being routinely for analysis of the value and licensing potential of patents or portfolios of patents – and we invite you to see this for yourself. Please contact us for a review of patents you may be interested in – or a free trial.

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