• iRunway
Speech Recognition Patent Landscape

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Contact - George Shea, Shea Communications, LLC
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Content Overview

  • Speech Recognition Patent Landscape
  • Analysis of Speech Recognition Patents
  • - Leading Patent Owners
    - Seminal Patent Landscape
  • Application of Speech Recognition Patents
  • - Key Players in Mobile Devices
    - Key Players in Automobiles
  • Patent Licensing & Litigation


The ability to interface with a machine using natural human language has always fascinated the scientific world. Virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri have demonstrated the promise of a comfortable future with speech recognition and voice-enabled processes penetrating household and industrial applications. While the success rate so far in the world market has been negligible, this is soon likely to change.

Microsoft’s Cortana, available in the Windows 10 for mobile phones, tablets and desktop units may dramatically advance the virtual assistant experience, providing Microsoft with a significant edge over competitors. Unlike previous virtual assistants, Cortana is now tailored to local languages, customs and cultures, and to the corresponding nuances of speech.

While technology developers such as Nuance Communications have developed a large speech recognition technology patent portfolio in recent years, companies such as Microsoft have focused on linguistics, building massive dictionaries of vocabulary through neural networks and cloud-based architecture. Linguistics may be the key to reducing processing time and providing a more seamless user experience.

This research report examines speech recognition technology and its patent landscape in the U.S. market, providing an overview of key audio signal processing techniques and identifying the IP strengths and weaknesses of top companies. It provides in-depth analysis of two widely used speech recognition applications – mobile devices and automobiles.

iRunway’s analysis found 21,281 granted patents with Microsoft, Nuance, AT&T and IBM as top patent holders. While Microsoft owns the largest patent portfolio in linguistics technology with 15% of the seminal, or strong, patents, Nuance dominates the recognition category with 8.5% seminal patents. Sony owns 7.4% of seminal patents in storage and transmission technology.

At least 172 seminal patents belonging to the leading 10 seminal patent owners expire in 2016. This will likely prompt a new wave of development with a dramatic impact on the application of speech recognition technology.

Mobile devices are emerging as commercially successful tools to perform human activities through voice commands. iRunway’s analysis found 3,209 patents in this space. AT&T, Nuance, Microsoft, IBM and Google are key patent holders. Apple does not have a large speech recognition portfolio and licenses patents.

A growing market for smart vehicles has bolstered the automobile industry into a key applicant of speech recognition technology. iRunway’s analysis found 648 speech recognition patents applicable to automotive systems. Apple and Google are two major players vying for a large market share with their CarPlay and Android Auto speech-controlled infotainment systems respectively. However, many auto manufacturers have begun developing these technologies in-house. Denso, General Motors and Honda are three leading patent owners in this space.


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