While Apple managed to avoid any serious punishment against Chinese company Proview over sales of the iPad tablet computer against the restrictions of a patent, the American company may face a legal challenge from an organisation running in the same language, but instead being heard on home turf, as a university from Taiwan claim that they are the owners to the US patents for Apple’s trademark voice-recognition system Siri.
Filing the case in America, the National Cheng Kung University claim that they were granted two patents to a Siri-style system (in 2007 and 2010, respectively), and that Apple (who launched Siri as a feature on the iPhone 4S in 2010) have infringed on those rights owned by the academic institution.
Filed to a court in the state of Texas, the university based in Tainan City (Taiwan), which is home to just over 20,000 students, will be hoping for a positive outcome (which could yet come through a settlement in the manner of the Chinese Proview case), as lawyers representing National Cheng Kung University stated: “NCKU has suffered monetary damages in an amount not yet determined, and will continue to suffer damages in the future unless Apple’s infringing activities are enjoined by this court.”
NCKU’s legal manager Yama Chen noted of the tactical planning of the claim, and of plans to take on other companies which have infringed on their patents worldwide: “We filed that lawsuit in the Texas court because it processes faster and its rulings are usually in favour of patent owners and the compensations are usually higher. We are still in the stages of exploring [legal action against other companies]. This lawsuit against Apple is just an early step,” he said.
While Apple are yet to enter their verdict on the potential case, it could be a worrying sign for them that everyone with the slight of claims will now be looking for a quick buck and retribution on any mistakes Apple have made. Could the Proview settlement have cost Apple more than they bargained for?