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High-Tech FTD.com licenses One Voice technology



War of Words Continues Between Samwha, Aerovox

FTD.com is licensing voice command technology from a San Diego company, letting customers buy roses and daisies by speaking instead of typing.

The VoiceSite technology, a Web site offering produced by San Diego’s One Voice Technologies, Inc., will let customers navigate through FTD’s selections, then make purchases just by speaking into a microphone.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies only said they have signed a multi-year, commission-based agreement.

One Voice will also cross promote FTD.com to users of its IVAN system. IVAN, which stands for Intelligent Voice Animated Navigator, is a home computer accessory, complete with an animated, on-screen cartoon character, that allows users to surf the ‘Net with voice commands.

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Another site IVAN surfs with ease is Britannica.com.

In other news, One Voice announced last month it was taking cost-cutting measures, which included laying off 16 people.

Looking ahead, One Voice hopes to interest wireless service providers in its technology, as well as people working in interactive television and telematics, or computers in the car.

The future of the FTD partnership will likely extend to the wireless world. It won’t be long before mobile phone and wireless device users can access the FTD Web site , then place orders , with One Voice’s technology, the companies announced.

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Capacitor Flap: Their legal fight was done, but a war of words between Samwha U.S.A. and Aerovox Inc. hadn’t cooled as of early February.

New Bedford, Mass.-based Aerovox sued Otay Mesa-based Samwha U.S.A., Samwha’s South Korean parent company, and other companies in September 1999 in U.S. District Court for Central District of California in Los Angeles.

Aerovox alleged Samwha and other parties “infringed its patent for the impregnation and encapsulation of motor-run capacitors,” according to a Feb. 7 Aerovox press release. The same statement said Aerovox recently filed a motion to dismiss the suit against Samwha.

A Feb. 6 press release from Samwha said U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie dismissed the case “with prejudice” at Aerovox’s request.

“Faced with charges of fraud in the procurement of their patent, Robert D. Elliott, the president and chief executive officer of Aerovox Inc., recently stated in court papers that Aerovox ‘is no longer claiming’ that Samwha infringes the ‘010 patent and ‘will never in the future make such a claim,'” read Samwha’s Feb. 6 release. (The number is an abbreviation for the U.S. patent number.)

Elliott and Aerovox shot back.

“On Feb. 6, 2001, Samwha issued a press release in which it claimed that Aerovox dismissed the case because it had been charged with fraud,” said Aerovox’s Feb. 7 press release.

“This is patently false,” the Aerovox release quotes Elliott as saying. ” Aerovox’s dismissal was an economic decision based on the exorbitant cost of litigation and in no way on the merits of our case.”

Column Components: i4i (Infrastructures for Information Inc.) has chosen San Diego for its first United States office. Based in Toronto, the company specializes in collaborative content software using extensible markup language (XML). John F. Winter will run the local office. At one time, Winter was president of Network Applied Sciences in San Diego. The board of San Diego-based JNI Corp. is seeking a replacement for Terry M. Flanagan, who resigned from his director’s post early this month. Flanagan, JNI’s former president and CEO, announced his retirement from those jobs early last fall; Neal M. Waddington stepped into those jobs in November. JNI makes storage area network equipment. Flanagan had been a director since the company’s formation in 1997.

Graves’ column appears weekly. Write him at bgraves@sdbj.com.

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