Home Google in multibillion-dollar patent infringement case over AI tech

Google in multibillion-dollar patent infringement case over AI tech

Google is set to face a federal jury after being accused of patent infringement, which could result in the tech company paying out billions.

Singular Computing, founded by Massachusetts-based scientist and former MIT professor Joseph Bates, claims the Alphabet-owned organization copied his proprietary technology and used it to support AI features in Google Search, Gmail, Google Translate and other Google services.

According to a Google court document, Singular requested up to $7 billion in monetary damages, which is said to be more than double the largest-ever patent infringement award in U.S. history.

In a December motion, Singular Computing’s key damages expert Philip Green claimed “a license to the patents-in-suit would have resulted in a royalty payment of “up to $6.6 billion.” Google had attempted to dismiss his testimony.

Reuters reported that Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said that Singular’s patents “dubious,” adding that Google developed its processors “independently over many years.”

“We look forward to setting the record straight in court,” Castaneda continued.

In 2020, Singular’s complaint said Bates had “patented architectures, allow for […] more efficient use of a computer’s transistors and have revolutionized the way AI training and inference are accomplished.” It claimed that the scientist shared his computer-processing innovations with Google between 2010 and 2014.

The lawsuit also added that Google was aware that its demand for AI-based user services significantly surpassed its computing capabilities before 2017. The company acknowledged that without integrating the technology from Bates’ patents into its computers, “it would have had to at least double its computing footprint to accommodate such demand for delivering increased speech recognition services alone.”

Last July, a federal judge blocked Google from telling jurors that the computer architecture developed by Bates is ineligible for U.S. patent protection or that the asserted patents are otherwise invalid.

What is Google’s AI software?

Google introduced its AI neural processing software in 2016, which is used to deliver complex artificial intelligence and machine learning processes on the phone itself, essentially bringing the power of cloud computing to a smartphone. Singular alleged that several versions of the Tensor units violated its patent rights.

However, it was reported that Google had said in the document that “engineers had mixed feelings about the technology and the company ultimately rejected it, explicitly telling Dr. Bates that his idea was not right for the type of applications Google was developing.”

What other patent cases has Google faced?

Google has faced several patent suits over the years, including in 2011, where it lost the first round of a case against Wireless Ink Corp. Both Facebook and the search giant failed to get Wireless Ink’s infringement claim dismissed. As a result, Wireless Ink was allowed to pursue charges related to user participation in social networks on mobile devices against the tech companies.

Featured Image: Canva / Pexels

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Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

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