Amazon-Freshub Smart Kitchen Patent Feud Heads to Federal Circuit

After unsuccessfully asking the Western District of Texas for judgment as a matter of law and a trial do-over, Freshub Inc. and Freshub Ltd. have appealed to the Federal Circuit in a case concerning voice command technology patents. Amazon has cross-appealed the jury’s findings of patent validity.

Freshub, the subsidiary of an Israeli-owned company and a self-described leader in “Smart Kitchen Commerce technology” filed suit against Inc., Services LLC, Prime Now LLC, and Whole Foods Market Services Inc. (collectively, Amazon) in 2019. Freshub asserted that Amazon’s Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet devices infringe three of its patents, in part owing to Amazon’s virtual assistant, “Alexa,” which employs automatic speech recognition technology to, for example, help a user verbally construct a grocery list.

According to Freshub’s amended complaint, the patents at issue stemmed from natural voice command technology to build and maintain lists and purchase retail items that was developed as early as 2005. Presently, Freshub’s software application allows consumers to, among other things, “easily add any grocery item to their carts or shopping lists, and to quickly order or replenish products at any time,” by “natural voice commands or with a simple wave of the hand.” 

The filing alleges that Amazon’s voice recognition technology illegally copies claims of three patents owned by Freshub’s corporate relative. 

This week’s submission to the Federal Circuit appeals the result of a May 2021 jury trial and the court’s subsequent refusal to reconsider the jury’s verdict both upholding the asserted patents’ claims and finding no infringement on part of Amazon.

In the December 2021 opinion declining to grant judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, Judge Alan D. Albright found that Amazon “presented substantial evidence during trial that at least some of the claim elements were not met by the accused products.” Specifically, the jury heard dueling testimony from both sides’ experts, weighed their credibility, and ultimately found in favor of Amazon.

As such, the court said there were no grounds to overturn the decision. Freshub’s opening brief before the Federal Circuit is due in early April.

Freshub is represented by Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, and Amazon by Fenwick & West LLP and of-counsel The Dacus Firm.