Amazon Sued for Patent Infringement Over Echo Smart Speaker

On Tuesday in the Eastern District of Texas, Amazon was sued for patent infringement regarding a single patent concerning Amazon’s Echo product. Vocalife LLC alleged that Amazon Echo infringes upon U.S. Patent No. RE48,371 entitled “Microphone Array System.” 

The plaintiff alleged that Amazon has “a policy or practice of not reviewing the patents of others (including instructing its employees to not review the patents of others).” Specifically, the plaintiff believes that several Amazon employees knew of its patent and listed their names in the complaint. The ’371 patent generally covers systems and methods for use in a microphone array system. The invention described in the ’371 patent was developed by Dr. Manli Zhu and Dr. Qi Li. For example, the invention is implemented by infringing virtual assistant smart speakers utilizing Amazon “Alexa” Technology.

Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged, Amazon also has infringed and is continuing to infringe the ’371 patent by “making, using, selling, offering to sell, and/or importing, and by actively inducing others to make, use, sell, offer to sell, and/or importing, products including microphone array systems technology and associated software that infringes the ’371 Patent.” For example, products include at least the Amazon Alexa-enabled products including, but not limited to, the Amazon Echo products. Vocalife manufactures and sells the CrispMic II, a smart microphone as a module for voice interactive products. The CrispMic II is a multiple-microphone array module for smart speakers, robotic devices, smart appliances, and other IoT platforms that require far-field voice capture, speech recognition, and voice control. The CrispMic II is powered by Vocalife’s advanced digital signal processor (DSP) algorithms developed over the past decade to suppress background noise, enhance speech intelligibility, and improve automatic speech recognition accuracy. Vocalife marks the CrispMic II product with the ’371 patent and has complied with 35 U.S.C. § 287. 

Under the one count complaint, Vocalife alleged that Amazon infringes the ‘371 patent by “making, using, offering to sell, selling, and/or importing into the United States virtual assistant smart speakers that utilize a microphone array system.” Additionally, Amazon Echo products contain the DSPs that comprise a noise reduction unit that suppress said ambient noise signals for further enhancing said target sound signal.

For relief, Vocalife is seeking compensation for Amazon’s alleged infringement, a verdict in its favor, and attorney’s fees.

Vocalife is being represented by Fabricant LLP.