Vlingo Buys Patents from Bellevue-based Intellectual Ventures As Defense In Nuance Lawsuit—Hopes for “Horse Trade”

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the general idea to me today, saying that Nuance has routinely used litigation as part of its business. “In our industry, there are companies and players like Nuance that use patents aggressively and offensively as a business tactic,” he says. “Sometime it’s easier for them to litigate over a patent issue than to come out with new products.”

A Nuance spokeswoman told me that the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation, but I’ll be sure to update this space if Nuance has anything additional to say about Vlingo’s patent deal with Intellectual Ventures.

In the past two years, the lawsuit from Nuance has slowed, but ultimately not prevented, Vlingo’s deal making with other players in the wireless industry, Grannan told me. Last year, the company announced Nokia would be shipping certain devices in Europe with Vlingo’s technology. It also announced it was abandoning the speech recognition engine developed by IBM and maintained by Nuance in favor of AT&T’s technology. AT&T took a minority stake in Vlingo in the process.

Vlingo has raised three rounds of venture funding, the company says. It nabbed about $26.5 million in its first two rounds, including a $20 million Series B round led by Yahoo in April 2008. Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners have also backed the company.

(Disclosure: Vlingo CTO and co-founder Mike Phillips is brother-in-law to Greg Huang, Xconomy’s Boston editor. Neither was involved in the reporting of this story.)

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