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Apple hit in business litigation for alleged patent infringement

Texas fans of Apple Inc. products are probably familiar with the voice help application known as Siri, which uses natural vocal communication in order to answer questions and satisfy requests made by a user talking to it. This popular app was under fire, however, with business litigation launched against the Cupertino company alleging that it infringed on another company's patent. A federal judge recently ruled that Colorado's Potter Voice Technologies could move forward with its legal challenge against the tech giant.

The patent that Potter claimed was infringed upon by Apple was titled Method and Apparatus for Controlling a Digital Computer Using Oral Input. Their legal action named the defendants as Apple and also other companies that rely on voice control technology, such as Google, Samsung, Research and Motion, Motorola and Sony. The technology other than Siri that was the focus of the lawsuit was Google Voice Search, the ruling stated.

Apple bought Siri Inc. in 2010. The ruling said that the inventors of the allegedly infringed-upon patent were employees of the smaller company when it was acquired. Also allowed by the judge's ruling were indirect patent infringement claims which alleged that Apple encouraged the use of the Siri and Google Voice Search apps on iPhones and other devices running Apple's operating systems. Potter maintains that Apple directed owners of these devices to use the voice feature, which they claimed showed that the tech giant intended for customers to infringe on the patent.

Intellectual property disputes over patents or trademarks can cost companies a great deal of money. International business litigation can be even more costly if not handled correctly. Companies may want to consult with legal professionals before filing suit in a corporate dispute or in response to court action taken against them.

Source: Courthouse News, "Patents Behind Siri Could Leave Apple Liable", Courtney Walters, January 08, 2014

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