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Amazon Beats Some Patent Claims Over Alexa Technology, For Now (Correct)

Sept. 2, 2022, 4:38 PMUpdated: Sept. 6, 2022, 8:12 PM

Amazon.com Inc. convinced a New York federal magistrate judge to strike some claims in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s suit alleging that the tech giant’s voice service Alexa infringes its patent, though he said the university can amend its allegations.

Rensselaer didn’t sufficiently allege its patent infringement contentions against Amazon, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles wrote in a decision and order. Peebles gave RPI 14 days to amend its complaint and also denied Amazon’s bid to pause discovery in the dispute.

Rensselaer sued Amazon in the US District Court for the Northern District of New York in 2018, alleging that Amazon’s Alexa, a cloud-based voice service on Amazon’s Echo and other enabled devices, processes natural language inputs in a way that infringes its US Patent No. 7,177,798. The patent, which covers a method for processing natural language input, expired in November.

Peebles found that Rensselaer’s accusations were lacking in detail regarding their theory that Alexa is representative of a slew of other allegedly infringing products. RPI must either elaborate on the representativeness or provide more claim charts showing certain products or groups of products in an amended complaint, according to the order.

“Although plaintiffs identify various accused devices and products within their contentions,” Peebles wrote, “they do not clearly explain how Alexa is representative of all those devices and products.”

Rensselaer listed Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire product families, the Amazon Dash Wand, the Amazon Tap, and Amazon shopping and music applications among the infringing products. Amazon in May was told to produce certain details related to its technology.

RPI is represented by Robins Kaplan LLP. Amazon is represented by Hancock Estabrook LLP and Knobbe Martens.

The case is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute v. Amazon.com Inc., N.D.N.Y., No. 1:18-cv-549, 9/2/22.

(Corrects the details of the judge's order. An earlier update fixed the spelling of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Samantha Handler in Washington at shandler@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tonia Moore at tmoore@bloombergindustry.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com