Siri, how much did Apple agree to pay Marathon Patent Group, Inc. over your voice-system technology? 24.9 million. According to documents recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple has agreed to settle with the patent troll. In turn, Marathon Patent Group will split the money with the original patent provider, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that Apple’s Siri personal assistant, available for select Apple products, processes natural language inputs as claimed in U.S. Patent No. 7,177, 798 (‘798 patent) by inventors Dr. Cheng Hsu and Dr. Veera Boonjing in 2007. At the time, Dr. Hsu was a Professor of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems and Dr. Veera was a doctoral candidate at RPI.
According to Ars Technica, RPI’s tech transfer office turned to Erich Spangenberg — a successful and controversial figure in the patent-trolling industry — to monetize the ‘798 patent. He and his wife owned a shell company called Dynamic Advances, which sued Apple in 2012. Then, Dynamic Advances became a part of Marathon Patent Group.
Apple’s multimillion-dollar payment will entitle the company to a license to the ‘798 patent a three-year covenant from being sued by Dynamic Advances. As Ars put it, this settlement is a reminder that the era of the patent troll, despite changes in case law and new approaches, is far from over.
For a different buzzed-about case in which a company took on a patent troll and won, check out our post.