Patent trollin’: Portal Communications sues Apple for patent violations

Another day, another lawsuit. Non-practicing entity Portal Communications has sued Apple for alleged infringement of three patents related to natural language voice and audio query systems, such as those of the tech giant's Siri, reports AppleInsider.

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In its filing with the Eastern Texas District Court, Portal leverages three related patents invented by Dave Bernard, CEO of technology solutions firm The Intellection Group. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,376,645, 7,873,654 and 8,150,872, all titled "Multimodal natural language query system and architecture for processing voice and proximity-based queries," were transferred from The Intellection Group, Inc. to Portal Communications in January. Each patent deals with methods of parsing user queries from natural language patterns into machine decipherable commands, whether they be voice or text.

A non-practicing entity (NPE) is someone who holds a patent for a product or process but has no intentions of developing it. A patent is a government-issued license that gives an inventor exclusive rights to the manufacture, use or sale of his invention for a specified time period. In other words, a “patent troll.”

A patent troll is an individual or an organization that purchases and holds patents for unscrupulous purposes such as stifling competition or launching patent infringement suits. In legal terms, a patent troll is a type of non-practicing entity: someone who holds a patent but is not involved in the design or manufacture of any product or process associated with that patent.