VB Assets, owner of pioneering voice-recognition software developed by VoiceBox Technologies, is taking action against Amazon, alleging that a number of patents developed by VoiceBox were infringed when Amazon developed Alexa, its popular voice-activated device.

VoiceBox contacted Amazon back in 2011 with a view to Amazon licensing VoiceBox’s software. According to the lawsuit, VoiceBox then held meetings with Amazon, but no license agreement followed. When Amazon released Alexa in 2014, the device implemented technology that was, according to the lawsuit, “strikingly similar to the patented technology that VoiceBox Technologies showed Amazon in 2011”.

When Amazon subsequently began recruiting VoiceBox staff, the then-CEO of VoiceBox proposed that Amazon buy the firm outright. At this time, according to the complaint, a synopsis of VoiceBox’s patent portfolio was given to Amazon as part of these negotiations.

While VoiceBox was purchased by Nuance Communications in 2018, the patents outlined in the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in federal court, Delaware, currently sit with VB Assets, a new company set up to manage patents still owned by VoiceBox.

According to Dan Branley of VB Assets, the new company was set up by several ex-VoiceBox investors and employees.

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