Nuance Slaps Vlingo With False Advertising Lawsuit As Latest Move In Legal Battle

6/24/11Follow @xconomy

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another lawsuit surrounding a few more patents, TechCrunch reported.

Grannan says the cases aren’t as much about the specific patents Nuance claims Vlingo has infringed on as about keeping Vlingo in court. “The patents they’ve alleged against us are very poorly chosen, some of which have nothing to do at all with what we do,” he says.

Nuance first sued Vlingo in 2008 surrounding a patent covering technology that adapts to a speaker’s voice over time. That one goes to trial July 18 in Massachusetts, Grannan says. The two companies are now involved in seven open lawsuits, with Nuance asserting 17 patents against Vlingo, and Vlingo charging Nuance with infringing on six patents, Grannan says. Last year, Vlingo made a deal with Bellevue, WA-based Intellectual Ventures to acquire patents it knew Nuance would need a license to, Grannan says. It made a similar deal with defensive patent firm RPX.

Vlingo’s ultimate hope is that Nuance will come to an agreement to cross-licenses patents with Vlingo.

That could take three more years, though, he says. And a lot more money. Grannan didn’t specify exactly how much Vlingo has spent on legal expenses, but said that each patent trial can cost $2 million to $3 million.

“Generally what I’d say to you is that our perception is that Nuance doesn’t care if we win or lose. They just want to get us into court to cost our startup time and money,” Grannan says.

Ultimately, the damage could extend beyond Vlingo, he says.

“We think this kind of litigation is bad for the entire industry,” says Grannan. “It slows down technology innovation and it makes the technology more expensive.”

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