Supporting Innovation and Growth in the Speech Industry

Patent Problems

The United States Patent System Wants Our Help.

Patents wielded by trolls dampen growth throughout the industry.

Patent claim interpretation can be difficult, uncertain and expensive.

STC Status

The STC was officially founded in December 2009 as a corporation and is in the process of filing for nonprofit status as a trade organization.

FAQ

Why is the STC needed?

The speech industry is seeing increased consolidation of companies and patent portfolios and an increasing willingness to use patent litigation as a means to achieve business goals, making it difficult for existing companies to grow and new companies to be launched. The resources companies spend on fending off spurious litigation drains the resources that could be put toward new applications and improving core technology. The STC will allow companies and research institutions to work together to create a more open working environment.

How can the STC help the industry?

While patenting intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation, too many weak and overly general patents can actually inhibit innovation when they are wielded by patent “trolls” and others seeking to gain through the courts rather than in the marketplace. It is difficult for a single company, regardless of size, to fend off an attack due to the costly legal fees. The STC, with the wealth of experience and prior art of the combined membership behind it, will seek to identify weak patents being applied aggressively and provide the needed materials to members or even begin reexamination proceedings itself when warranted, benefitting all.

What specifically will the STC do for my company?

The STC will address the problem of spurious patents from two directions, both providing resources to members and taking independent action.

Who can join the STC?

Any company, research institute or university who is interested in working together and contributing to the goals described above can join the STC.

What are the membership categories and what are the benefits?

All members have open access to the resource library and we ask all members to contribute to helping create the library by providing information on what resources their organization might have for the “prior art” pool. "Level One" members vote on the Board of Directors, who determine how the resources will be used and when the STC will take action, such as starting reexamination proceedings on a particular patent. "Level Two" members will be kept abreast of what the organization is doing, but aren’t able to contribute to the direction. Universities and research institutes able to join for free as Associate Members upon approval of the board.

What is the difference between the STC and existing organizations, such as AVOIS and the VoiceXML forum?

The STC’s primary focus is on creating a healthy environment for the industry, where intellectual property is used to grow business, not create stagnation through the courts. AVIOS, the VXML Forum and other organizations have equally important missions, and we will work together, but their missions don’t overlap with the STC.

What can the STC do for organizations with large patent portfolios?

The balance of portfolios in the speech industry is unusual given recent consolidation, so that even many of the largest sets are dwarfed. Furthermore, attack from “trolls” and others that may be frivolous still need to be addressed and can be costly. The STC can work as an independent entity, leveraging the resources of all members, to put down attacks efficiently and effectively, sending a message to attacking entities to stay away from STC members.