• September 5, 2007
  • By Leonard Klie Editor, Speech Technology and CRM magazines
  • FYI

New Patent Claims Priority in NLP Development

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Parus Interactive, a provider of speech-enabled unified communications software solutions, received a Notice of Allowance from the U.S. Patent Office July 19 for a patent covering natural language processing (NLP) technologies. 

This particular patent is the continuation of an earlier patent that Parus Interactive, based in Bannockburn, Ill., filed for the technology back in March 1998, claiming priority to an earlier application developed in 1997, according to Bob McConnell, the company’s general counsel.

NLP is a process that expands the recognition capabilities of an interactive voice response system. Rather than being limited to directed prompts that instruct users on what to say and how to respond (such as say yes or no), a user can respond to a prompt with thousands of natural speech replies, from one-word responses to full sentences. Parus currently uses this technology in its unified communications products, asking users questions such as What would you like to do? and What next?

NLP is not a new concept, as many speech technology vendors have been experimenting with it for years. "The fact is that there have been people who have been developing forms of intuitive speech recognition in the last few years," McConnell says. "For us, it’s as if this patent was issued in 1997. It creates significant value opportunities for Parus Interactive."

"The breadth of our patent portfolio represents the reality that Parus Interactive was the first company to make breakthrough inventions in the field of communications managed by speaker-independent speech recognition, and we intend to continue our efforts to build on these successes," Taj Reneau, chairman and CEO of Parus Interactive, said in a statement. "We are excited by this most recent success and believe that its claims break significant new ground in our already strong patent portfolio, particularly in the field of speech recognition used to manage communications.

"The potential applications of this intuitive form of speech recognition are enormous, and will empower the user experience and deepen the effectiveness of speech applications," Reneau said further.

The Parus Interactive invention operates over any medium, whether it’s a public telephony or wireless network, the Internet, or a private network.

"The activities covered by the new Parus Interactive patent are endless," said Reneau, "since any command involving a network communication is covered."

The newly allowed Parus Interactive patent overlays the landmark patents existing in the company’s patent portfolio. Parus Interactive patents already holds a number of other patents for the use of speech recognition to manage communications through speaker-independent speech commands over any device or transport medium.

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