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Amazon’s Alexa in Trouble
Trademarkclick .com 10 Jul 2018

Amazon’s Alexa in Trouble

Recently Amazon had launched its innovative device by the name Amazon Echo® which is a hands-free smart speaker that is controlled by a human voice. This device works with the high tech software Alexa® which connects you to a cloud based voice service to play music, make calls, check weather and news, set alarms, control smart home devices, and much more. This is now being widely advertised and also being used in other devices Amazon Fire®, Android® and Apple iOS® devices. This has attracted all the consumers of the world and created a market of its own. Some sources suggest that as of September 27, 2017, Amazon had some 5,000 people dedicated to its Alexa® and Echo® product lines and has sold tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices.

Though this seems to be bringing a new wave in the technological era it seems Amazon was not the first one to build it first, Voip-Pal.com Inc., a publicly traded corporation, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington (“Voip-Pal”, “Company”) states that almost fourteen years ago, Voip-Pal’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Digifonica, began developing, inventing and patenting many of the same communication methods [including Voice-over-Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) technology], which are now being relentlessly copied and end products are being circulated in the market. Moreover, they assert that given the similarity between the interfaces of both the inventions, it seems quite unreasonable how without attaining any license for their 11-year-old patent; big internet giants like Amazon just started marketing out the devices into the market. They also assert being the first in line to develop this high tech product, it would be rare that Amazon was not aware of their presence. Further, even as per the Patent Law, the invention needs to be novel; which means it must distinguish itself from the ‘PRIOR ART’ which can be any published material existing prior to the invention.

Legal Dispute

Considering the aforesaid, Voip-Pal has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Amazon, Inc. in U.S. District Court (Nevada), accusing Amazon’s Alexa® calling and messaging services, which work with Amazon communication devices including Echo® devices, and certain Alexa-enabled Amazon Fire®, Android® and Apple iOS® devices. It is imperative to state company’s like Voip-Pal are quite informed and aware about their rights since they had filed a similar suit against Apple Inc., in lieu of the patents - U.S. Patent No. 9,537,762, U.S. Patent No. 9,813,330, U.S. Patent No. 9,826,002, and U.S. Patent No. 9,948,549; which are the subject matter of the present suit as well.

Key Take Away

With the En Route Litigation, Voip-Pal is only looking for monetizing its technology, since they openly have claimed to be open to amicably settle the matter by attaining compensation and handing out licenses for its Patents. The key take away from this is to be utmost vigilant with one’s IP rights; because even if you would not be able to attain/ develop a market for the end product; there is always a scope to legally benefit and license the IP created.

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