Judge Orders Google Not To Google Jurors In $7bn AI Patent Case

A US federal judge has ordered Google not to use the “vast quantity of users’ personal data” to which it has access for its own advantage in jury selection in a $7 billion (£5.5bn) artificial intelligence (AI) patent case due to begin on Tuesday.

In the case, where Google is being sued by Singular Computing for allegedly using a computer scientist’s patents in its AI chips, US District Chief Judge Dennis Saylor IV of the District of Massachusetts said the potential for invasion of jurors’ privacy was “sufficently substantial” to warrant a court order, even though Google had already promised not to access users’ data.

“First, defendant Google LLC has access to a vast quantity of its users’ personal data,” the judge wrote. “It is almost certain that many, if not all, members of the venire are current users of Google’s products and services.

$7bn patent claim

“Although Google’s counsel has stated unequivocally that it will not use its users’ data for litigation advantage, nonetheless the potential for unwarranted (and asymmetrical) invasion of jurors’ privacy is sufficiently substantial that an order prohibiting such conduct is warranted.”

Jury selection began on Monday with the trial due to come before the court on Tuesday.

Singular Computing, founded by Massachusetts-based computer scientist Joseph Bates, alleges Google copied his technology and used it for AI features in Google Search, Gmail, Google Translate and other services.

The $7.01bn Singular seeks in damages would be more than double the largest patent infringement award in US history.

The search giant said Singular’s patents were “dubious” and said Google had developed its AI processors “independently over many years”, while Singular declined to comment.

Tensor AI chips

In Singular’s 2019 complaint it said Bates had shared his computer processing innovations with Google between 2010 and 2014.

Google then introduced its Tensor Processing Units, chips with dedicated AI-processing features, in 2016.

Singular says versions 2 and 3 of the units, introduced in 2017 and 2018, violate its patents.

Google said in a court filing that although it had examined Bates’ technology, it had “ultimately rejected it, explicitly telling Dr. Bates that his idea was not right for the type of applications Google was developing”.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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