Nov 8 (Reuters) - Amazon (AMZN.O) on Wednesday was ordered to pay $46.7 million in damages by a jury in Delaware federal court that found the tech giant's Alexa virtual assistant violates patents related to speech recognition and natural language processing.
The jury determined that Amazon infringed patents belonging to VB Assets, whose predecessor VoiceBox Technologies created voice-control software for companies including carmakers Toyota, Chrysler and Dodge and GPS makers TomTom and Magellan.
Representatives for Amazon and VB did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the verdict.
innovations and infringing four patents covering advances in voice-based search technology. It said in its 2019 lawsuit that VoiceBox representatives first met with Amazon executives in 2011 to discuss integrating its patented technology into Amazon products.
Amazon launched Alexa in its Echo smart speakers in 2014 and has since integrated the voice assistant into other devices and mobile apps. The lawsuit said that Amazon began poaching dozens of VoiceBox employees starting in 2016, and that the two companies met again about VoiceBox's patents in 2017.
VB said in its complaint that Amazon's conduct "crushed" VoiceBox's chances to "promote and build a business" around its patents. Software company Nuance Communications bought Bellevue, Washington-based VoiceBox in 2018.
The case is VB Assets LLC v. Amazon.com Inc, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, No. 1:19-cv-01410.