A jury in Federal District Court in Boston found Vlingo had not infringed any of Nuance’s patents. However, the jury also affirmed one of Nuance’s patents, which Vlingo had argued was invalid.
Nuance, the Burlington-based. maker of the well-known Dragon speech-to-text application, had sued Vlingo, a venture-backed newcomer, in 2008. The lawsuit came soon after Vlingo raised $20 million in venture capital from investors includingYahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Boston-area venture capital firms Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners .
The lawsuit alleged Vlingo’s products infringed a Nuance-held patent for software that recognizes human speech patterns. Over three years, the lawsuit expanded to cover additional patents, some acquired by Nuance since the suit began.
In a strongly worded statement following the verdict, Vlingo founder and CTO Mike Phillips called the Nuance lawsuit “distasteful” and an “abuse of the legal system” that “stifles innovation.” A statement from Nuance, on the other hand, called the verdict “mixed” and noted that Nuance has several other lawsuits still pending against Vlingo.
Vlingo’s founders, John Nguyen and Phillips, had started the company in 2006 after leaving Speechworks, another speech software company, which merged with Nuance in 2005.
Nuance (formerly called ScanSoft) began developing its Dragon product with the 2001 acquisition of the assets of Lernout & Hauspie, following that company’s demise in an accounting scandal. Nuance has since developed a reputation as an aggressive acquirer of intellectual property and a zealous patent litigator.
The company reported third-quarter sales of $328.9 million, a 20 percent increase over its sales during the same period last year.