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Artificial Intelligence

Google dragged to court over AI tech; Faces multibillion dollar patent trail

Google, owned by Alphabet, is heading to a federal jury in Boston for a trial on claims that the processors it employs to drive AI technology in crucial products violate patents owned by a computer scientist.

Singular Computing, started by computer scientist Joseph Bates from Massachusetts, alleges that Google copied his tech and applied it to power AI features in various Google services like Google Search, Gmail, and Google Translate. According to a court document from Google, Singular is seeking up to $7 billion in damages, a sum that’s over twice the biggest-ever payout for a patent infringement case in the US.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda dismissed Singular’s patents as “questionable” and asserted that Google crafted its processors “independently over many years.”

“We look forward to setting the record straight in court,” Castaneda said. Singular’s lawyer chose not to provide any comments on the case.

The trial is anticipated to go on for two to three weeks.

In a 2019 complaint, Singular claimed that Bates shared his computer-processing breakthroughs with Google from 2010 to 2014. According to Singular, Google’s Tensor Processing Units, which boost the company’s AI capabilities, mimic Bates’ tech and violate two patents.

The legal action stated that Google’s circuits utilize an enhanced architecture discovered by Bates, enabling more processing power and “revolutionised the way AI training and inference are accomplished.”

In 2016, Google rolled out its processing units to drive AI functions such as speech recognition, content generation, ad recommendations, and more. According to Singular, the second and third versions of these units, launched in 2017 and 2018, infringe upon its patent rights.

In December, Google informed the court that its processors operate differently from Singular’s patented technology, and it argued that the patents themselves are not valid.

“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. On Tuesday, a US appeals court in Washington will also consider arguments on whether to nullify Singular’s patents in a different case that Google has appealed from the US Patent and Trademark Office.