Google faces multibillion-dollar US patent trial over AI technology

Google faces multibillion-dollar US patent trial over AI technology

BOSTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) is set to go before a federal jury in Boston on Tuesday in a trial over claims that processors it uses to power artificial intelligence technology in key products infringe a computer scientist’s patents.

Singular Computing, founded by Massachusetts-based computer scientist Joseph Bates, says Google copied his technology and used it to support AI features in Google Search, Gmail, Google Translate and other Google services.

A Google court filing said that Singular has asked up to $7 billion in monetary damages, which would be more than double the largest-ever patent infringement award in U.S. history.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda called Singular’s patents “dubious” and said that Google created its processors “independently over many years.”

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

An attorney for Singular declined to speak on the case.

The trial is scheduled to last two to three weeks.

Singular’s 2019 lawsuit said Bates shared his computer-processing innovations with Google between 2010 and 2014. Singular said Google’s Tensor Processing Units, which enhance the tech giant’s AI powers, copy Bates’ technology and infringe two patents.

The lawsuit said that Google’s circuits use an improved architecture Bates found that allows for greater processing power and has “revolutionized the way AI training and inference are accomplished.”

Google unveiled its processing units in 2016 to power AI used for speech recognition, content generation, ad recommendation and other functions. Singular said that versions 2 and 3 of the units, released in 2017 and 2018, violate its patent rights.

Google told the court in December that its computers work in different ways than Singular’s patented technology and that the patents are invalid.

“Google 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,” Google said in a court filing.

A U.S. appeals court in Washington also will hear arguments on Tuesday about whether to invalidate Singular’s patents in a different case that Google appealed from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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