Sat, Apr 05, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Apple buys voice firm as Samsung court case falters

SIRI SAYS SUE:The tech giant picked up a speech-recognition firm to bolster its voice-activated service. Separately, a US judge blocked a courtroom tactic


Apple Inc chief executive Tim Cook extended his buying spree with the iPhone maker acquiring speech-recognition software company Novauris Technologies to help improve its Siri service, and failed to get court approval for a tactic in its intellectual property case against rival Samsung Electronics Co.

Apple said on Thursday it acquired the UK-based software company without disclosing how much it paid. The team behind Novauris has worked for companies including Dragon Systems, which makes dictation software.

The deal fits with Apple’s approach of acquiring smaller companies and swallowing the teams and technology before releasing related features in future products. The strategy contrasts with peers such as Google Inc and Facebook Inc, which have been spending billions of dollars on acquisitions.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet confirmed the acquisition that was initially reported by Web site TechCrunch.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Huguet said.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, made 15 acquisitions in its last fiscal year, compared with five known deals in the previous year.

Apple, accusing Samsung of misleading jurors at the start of a US$2 billion trial over smartphone technology, lost its bid to show jurors how it uses three of five patents disputed in the case.

US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on Wednesday rejected the company’s claim that it deserved the opportunity after Samsung said Apple was not using the intellectual property.

The fight at the outset of the second US trial between the world’s top smartphone makers exemplifies how bitterly contested the case is and how aggressively the companies want to check any advantage their opponent might gain. The jury in the first trial, in 2012, awarded US$1.05 billion in damages to Apple.

The smartphone market was valued at US$338.2 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Samsung had 31 percent of industry revenue, compared with 15 percent for Apple, whose share of the market has shrunk as the touch-screen interface has become commonplace and Samsung, LG Electronics Inc and Lenovo Group Ltd have introduced lower-cost iPhone alternatives.

Huguet did not immediately respond to an e-mail after regular business hours seeking comment on the ruling.

Addressing the jury in opening arguments on Tuesday, Samsung lawyer John Quinn called Apple’s case a thinly veiled attack on Google, whose Android operating system is used in Samsung phones, and accused Apple of exaggerating how much harm it has suffered from alleged copying of patented functions.

“Apple admits that three of the five patent claims that it is suing on were not in that iPhone and have never been in any iPhone since,” Quinn told jurors, according to a court filing. “Apple doesn’t consider it valuable enough to even use.”

Apple yesterday asked Koh to let it show jurors how it uses the three patents and asked her to correct Quinn’s “false statements” and explain the misrepresentations to jurors.

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