"If a Texas district court grants an injunction sought by Burlington, MA-based Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN), it could force Yahoo to shut down the voice-enabled version of its mobile search platform. The search tool is powered by software from Vlingo, a Cambridge, MA-based startup Nuance sued yesterday for alleged patent infringement.
The Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) platform, called oneSearch with Voice, works on Blackberry Pearl, Blackberry Curve, and Blackberry 8800 series smartphones, and allows users to enter Web search queries such as “Boston Red Sox scores” or “United Airlines Flight 541″ simply by speaking them into the device. Vlingo’s deal to get its speech recognition technology included in oneSearch was seen as a major coup for the Harvard Square startup, which has about 35 employees and recently closed a $20 million Series B financing round led by Yahoo.
Nuance filed its lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, a jurisdiction famous for favoring plaintiffs in patent-infringement cases. Xconomy obtained a copy of Nuance’s complaint. It alleges that Vlingo’s speech recognition software—including “without limitation, products and services Vlingo is supplying to Yahoo! oneSearch”—infringes on U.S. Patent No. 6,766,295, which was issued to Nuance engineers Hy Murviet and Ashvin Kannan in 2004. The patent covers a technique for making computerized transcription of a users’ speech more accurate over time using audio samples from multiple sessions such as phone calls.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and attorney fees, and also asks the court to “preliminarily and permanently restrain” Vlingo and its business partners from making, using, and selling the allegedly infringing software. Those partners would presumably include Yahoo's 'one search with Voice' platform."