Patent troll SpeakWare sues Apple over Siri control of HomeKit devices

An apparent patent troll is suing Apple for claimed patent infringement over Siri control of HomeKit devices …

Patently Apple notes that SpeakWare owns a 2002 patent entitled Hands-Free, Voice-Operated Remote Control Transmitter. It claims that Apple’s use of Siri to control appliances infringes this patent.

A casual reading of the patent doesn’t appear to support the contention.

A wireless, programmable, sound-activated and voice-operated remote control transmitter can be used to add hands-free speech control operation to a plurality of remotely controlled appliances manufactured by various manufacturers, each of which is normally controlled with one or more signals from an associated remote control transmitter. The system may be pre-programmed with a universal library of codes for controlling various appliance categories and appliances produced by various manufacturers within each category. The system may also be programmed using the controlled appliances’ remote control transmitters and one or more operators’ spoken commands. Once programming is complete, there is no need for the operator to manually operate the system, allowing true hands-free voice control of the remotely controlled products.

What the company appears to have patented is adding voice control to an existing remote-controlled appliance. However, the use of extremely broad claims – as is typical with patent applications – means that the company could argue its case.

The company claims that the patent is infringed by the iPhone 6s and later, 6th-gen iPad and on, and the HomePod. It is also suing Samsung and Microsoft but, oddly, not Amazon.

Patently Apple notes that the case was filed in the California Central District Court, but no judge has yet been assigned.


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