Marathon Patent Group just scored US$24.9 million from Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit settlement related to Siri voice control on the iPhone and iPad. If you aren't familiar with MPG, they're a non-practicing patent holding company representing the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In other words, a patent troll.
Apple to pay out $25M for Siri patent infringement
The patent in question, 7,177,798, describes a system for "processing natural language input," and dates back to 2000. It also covers using natural language to process database queries, all of which sounds a lot like what Siri does when you say, "Call my mom."
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute decided it wanted to monetize the patent, so it turned to Dynamic Advances, which later became part of MPG. The company's only target to date has been Apple, according to Ars Technica.
About half of the money from the settlement will go to MPG, and the rest will go to RPI, an unnamed exclusive licensee, and the legal team handling the case. RPI doesn't, however, seem pleased with the settlement because the related court filing also stated, "Dynamic Advances believes RPI has unreasonably withheld its consent to the reasonable royalty rate set forth in the settlement agreement between Dynamic Advances and Apple, and that issue may have to be resolved in arbitration."
It looks like the big winner here is MPG because it gets to walk away with about $12.5 million, while the school has to split its share with the legal team and prior licensee.
Since Apple was willing to settle the case instead of going to trial, we can make one of two assumptions: Apple's legal team knew MPG would win in court, or Apple felt it was more cost effective to settle than pursue a legal fight. Either way, the patent troll wins at everyone else's expense.
For MPG, that win has the potential to get even bigger. MPG said it has plans to go after other companies, too, and it'll no doubt make sure everyone knows Apple already agreed to pay up.