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OmniPage Maker Nuance Loses Patent Trial Over OCR Tech

timothy posted about a year ago | from the not-to-put-too-fine-a-point-on-it dept.

Businesses 56

rtobyr writes "The Recorder is reporting that Nuance and partner Mofo (law firm Morrison Foerster) have lost a suit over patent infringement involving Optical Character Recognition against Russian competitor ABBYY Software House: 'Nuance had accused ABBYY Software House of infringing three of its patents and mirroring its packaging. Both companies market software that uses optical character recognition technology, or OCR, to convert scanned images of text so they can be searched and edited digitally. Represented by a team of lawyers from Morrison & Foerster and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Nuance argued that ABBYY's FineReader was little more than a copy of its signature product OmniPage. The Burlington, Mass.-based company also sued Lexmark International Inc. for its use of ABBYY's products and sought more than $100 million in total damages from the two companies. Nuance did not prevail on any claims in Nuance Communications v. ABBYY Software House, 08-0912. MoFo partner Michael Jacobs, who is co-lead counsel for Nuance with fellow MoFo partner James Bennett, declined to comment.'" Update: 08/27 18:43 GMT by T : Sorry for the paywalled link; here's a better one. Update: 08/28 16:02 GMT by T : rtobyr adds: “Sorry about the paywalled link. They must have paywalled it after I submitted the story. It was not paywalled at the time of submission.”

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That MoFo (4, Funny)

wooferhound (546132) | about a year ago | (#44686789)

That Mofo didn't know what he was talking about . . .

Re:That MoFo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44686879)

That Mofo didn't know what he was talking about . . .

Uh oh, here comes another lawsuit...

Re:That MoFo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687543)

That's a Mofo partner to you, mister.

Slashdot is run by idiots (5, Informative)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#44686813)

1. Article is behind a registration paywall, not that any of the editors bothered to proofread or click the link.
2. The "editors" probably chose this submission for the sole reason that it says "MoFo" ... I have heard that Beavis & Butthead is back on the air so I guess the Slashdot editors are trying to get back to that level of discourse.

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (3, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | about a year ago | (#44686881)

How are we suppose to read the article without paying? slashdot isn't as good as it use to be

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687109)

We wait until someone posts the entire text of the article into the comments section and reward them with mod points, obviously. Or we wait until someone posts a link to a much better written article about the same news event to the comments while complaining that their submission was not posted while this crappy one was. Lastly, this being slashdot, everyone should know that you don't read TFA. I really don't much care what the article has to say. I'm just happy to see the decision go against the patent holder. It's entirely possible that the summary has it completely backwards or that there was never a law suit to begin with and the news is fake. Slashdot is now a receptacle of stale crap served up as lazily as possible. It is the Denny's of tech news.

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (1)

thaiceman (2564009) | about a year ago | (#44687485)

Unfortunately at the moment there are no decent articles that are not behind a damn paywall or I would have already posted a link.

Some one has to do it (5, Informative)

tebee (1280900) | about a year ago | (#44688757)

Patent Trial Ends in Total Loss for MoFo Client

By Julia Love Contact All Articles
The Recorder

August 26, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — After a two-week trial, Nuance Communications Inc. came up empty Monday when a jury found that a Russian competitor had not infringed any of its patents or trade dress.

Nuance had accused ABBYY Software House of infringing three of its patents and mirroring its packaging. Both companies market software that uses optical character recognition technology, or OCR, to convert scanned images of text so they can be searched and edited digitally.

Represented by a team of lawyers from Morrison & Foerster and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Nuance argued that ABBYY's FineReader was little more than a copy of its signature product OmniPage. The Burlington, Mass.-based company also sued Lexmark International Inc. for its use of ABBYY's products and sought more than $100 million in total damages from the two companies.

Nuance did not prevail on any claims in Nuance Communications v. ABBYY Software House, 08-0912. MoFo partner Michael Jacobs, who is co-lead counsel for Nuance with fellow MoFo partner James Bennett, declined to comment.

From his opening statement to his closing, ABBYY's lead lawyer, Gerald Ivey of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, urged the jury to honor the American spirit of competition.

"That's what [this verdict] does," he said in an interview Monday. "It allows ABBYY to continue to compete fairly and on equal footing with all the other companies that are interested in the OCR technology that ABBYY is a real leader in developing."

The trial before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White revolved around Nuance's U.S. Patent No. 6,038,342, which covers a "trainable template" that is updated during the process of converting scanned images into searchable text. The technology was roundly applauded when OmniPage debuted in 1988, Bennett said during his closing argument.

"It's not often in a patent case where you have the kind of widespread, third-party corroboration of the breakthrough, revolutionary... nature of an invention," Bennett told the jury. "And that's what we have here."

Bennett took ABBYY to task not only for infringing Nuance's patents but also for eroding the prices his client could charge for its products with deep discounting.

"OmniPage and Nuance, from the time that ABBYY entered this market, have been targeted," he said.

But Ivey insisted that the technology underlying ABBYY's products bears little resemblance to its competitor's. In contrast with Nuance's trainable template, ABBYY's program relies on a system of weighted guesses to determine word variance in context, he explained in an interview Monday.

"That is a very different philosophical and technological approach," he said.

Nuance also cried foul over ABBYY's packaging, which for a time made use of similar colors and images. During his closing argument, Ivey questioned the distinctiveness of Nuance's package design. He noted that there had been no documented cases of consumers mistaking the two companies' products. . And he took issue with the suggestion that his client was trying to masquerade as another company.

"ABBYY has proudly displayed its name on its packages since it entered the U.S.," he said in an interview.

During his closing argument, Ivey recounted ABBYY's beginnings as a startup, a story reminiscent of many Silicon Valley companies, though it unfolded in Moscow. The company's founder and CEO both testified in English, though it is their second language.

"Jurors had an opportunity to hear from them directly," he said. "I think that mattered."

Informative but (2)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about a year ago | (#44691933)

Isn't reproducing an entire news article inviting our own IP troll suit? IANAL, but reproducing (and not just linking, paraphrasing or quoting in part) an entire news article appears to go beyond the fair use doctrine. Or what's to prevent, say, a newspaper from simply copypasting another newspaper's lead story?

Re: Some one has to do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44693009)

I know some of those MoFo mofoes and they're of the "too clever by half" variety. Always been the smartest guys in the room, so, as a consequence, they can rationalize anything. Not a good position; paints oneself into a corner.

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687303)

How are we suppose to not read the article without paying? slashdot isn't as good as it use to be

FTFY

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about a year ago | (#44689509)

OK, now I'm confused. Are we not supposed to read the article and pay? Or are we not supposed to read the article and not pay? And it really muddies the waters when someone posts a huge block of text containing TFA...
All I'm really sure of is that this is /. and I'm not going to read the article!

Re: Slashdot is run by idiots (2)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#44693083)

It's slashdot. You're supposed to complain bitterly about the paywall, but when they EDIT it and post the free link, your supposed to lose interest. As evidence, I present every post before this and many follow... which one is actually about the topic of the article? The fixed free link has been posted now for some time.

Since I know these fuckers, I'll tell you who Nuance is. These are the people who buy up companies that get their start helping people with disabilities, and convert them to cash cows that fuck the disabled. They've fucked me three times already, and my ass is pretty sore. In the late 1990's they bought Dragon Systems, who wrote Dragon Dictate, which helped a whole generation of people who couldn't type to use computers by voice. I personally wrote over 1,600 Dragon Dictate/Emacs macros after my RSI injury, and programmed by voice for three years. It was a slow single-word recognition program, and was incapable of either blazing fast text entry or code dictation, but the devs worked very hard to make it work for people who could not type. They were promising continuous command recognition, a feature that would make me likely a faster programmer than with a keyboard, when Nuance bought them. Nuance dumped 100% of their effort on accessibility, and focused solely on the continuous voice dictation into Word market instead. 17 years later, Nuance has not improved voice command and control one iota [youtube.com] . This poor guy is just as slow as I was in 1996. Note the long pauses he is forced to make between each command.

My hands mostly recovered, and I type now. However, now I have trouble seeing the computer screen, because I've got some weird central vision problem, similar to Macular Degeneration (but most similar to Stargardt's Disease). So, I learned to listen fast to a computer generated voice which is popular with the blind, called Eloquence. Virtually every highly productive blind computer user in the country uses this text-to-speech engine. I've talked to the primary author, and I know she was highly motivated by how her system could help the blind. She didn't sell directly to Nuance, but after trading hands a couple of times, that's where the #1 voice for the blind is now owned. What does Nuance do with it? They fucking refuse to sell it! It used to be available for ARM processors, and it was awesome on Symbian phones. Now, it's only available bundled with > $1,000 software (JAWs) for the blind, and only in Windows, unless you are OK with using the old IBM version (IBM owned Eloquence for a while) which they generously made available for the blind in Linux. Several attempts have been made by the blind community to enable the blind to continue purchasing Eloquence from Nuance, but they fucking don't care. Now my brain is wired to understand a voice that I can't use. You have no idea how many neurons I devoted to understanding Eloquence at 600 wpm, and my blind friends who can listen twice as fast as me have devoted a significant portion of their brains. The callousness of Nuance is unrivaled.

So... I don't read books in print anymore. Instead I listen to them, spoken by the Mary TTS software, and you have no idea how many hours I spent making that work for me. It's on the order of a man-year, mostly because I couldn't buy Eloquence. I even had to invent a new algorithm to speed up voice by more than 2X with decent quality [vinux-project.org] . I get most of my e-books for almost free from a wonderful service for people with reading disabilities, called Bookshare.org. Unfortunately, my reading interests are not very mainstream, and I often want to read a book available only in print. To do this, I spend $1.50 (yes, only a dollar and a half) at Kinkos (or whatever they are now - I can't read the new sign) to remove the binding but I have to scan the book myself. It's only legal in the US if I do it personally - I'm not allowed to get the scanned version from a blind friend, for example.

So, I need OCR software. Does this story sound familiar? It's like Nuance has made it their goal to fuck up my life. Older blind guys on the forums swear by OmniPage, but since Nuance bought it, the low cost version usable by the blind is now over $400, well beyond what most blind folks can afford. Instead, people like me use ABBY FineReader. Now, personally I think FineReader sucks. I've basically given up on it, but at least I could get the Mac addition for around $100. So... I'm out $100 and still have no usable OCR solution. Thanks, Nuance! I hope you burn in Hell!

TFA should be uplifting for somone like me who knows just how evil Nuance is. It is not at all uplifting. Nuance may have lost the lawsuit, but they won the war. This lawsuit was not about protecting patent rights. It was about sucking money out of a relatively poor competitor. In forcing ABBY to spend likely millions of dollars defending themselves, Nuance won. They know how to play the game, and don't care who gets fucked over in the process.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44686997)

They figure since nearly no one reads the article anyways, there's not much point in making sure the article is reachable. I'm confident in the Slashdot community to be able to have a long-winded argument regardless of the availability of the article itself.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687021)

It is on here because it is a story about a software patent lawsuit. One that was, as per the summary, in the order of $100 million. These types of stories make it to slashdot all the time, I don't really see why you are so mystified about this.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687061)

Dude, Timmy's like eight years old. A law firm named "MoFo" is the funniest thing he's ever seen since the FartApp.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (2)

Alien54 (180860) | about a year ago | (#44687531)

There should be an alternate source for this sort of thing. Too bad Groklaw had to close up shop because of the government being an idiot.

Alternate Link at Law.com (1)

Alien54 (180860) | about a year ago | (#44687589)

Re:Alternate Link at Law.com (1)

SteffenM (166724) | about a year ago | (#44687831)

Nope. I still get a JS overlay demanding that I register for an account at The Recorder "Or sign in with LinkedIn!" before I get access to the article.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (3, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year ago | (#44688633)

2. The "editors" probably chose this submission for the sole reason that it says "MoFo" ... I have heard that Beavis & Butthead is back on the air so I guess the Slashdot editors are trying to get back to that level of discourse.

You can't exactly blame the editors for that one. The firm's domain is mofo.com [mofo.com] , and their about page [mofo.com] is titled "About MoFo". The firm fully embraces the name.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44693471)

I think his point was, he doesn't have a sense of humor... And these type of stories should be constant no matter what they were about including an idiot name like "MoFo".

You read the comments section and you are seeing more and more articles being skipped over by /. editors, users are giving out some good articles, but instead of being front page news, they have to give links to other stories. It shouldn't be that way. Ever since they sold out, they sold out big time.

There are several other things that are leading people to believe they're corporate ass kissers, just by how they filter stories, another way to look at it, is while the editors have a sense of humor it would be better to post any patent lawsuit no matter the name, or phrases.

Re:Slashdot is run by idiots (2)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | about a year ago | (#44689007)

"MoFo", I suspect, is Morrison & Foerster, mofo.com, an actual law firm that deals with intellectual property issues.

I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuance (1)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44686951)

So that says something. Not to say that you know every technology's owner because so many are invisible (or until you infringe on tthem), but when someone says one product everyone knows about infringes on a product no one knows about, the product no one knows about must not be all that hot afterall.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (3, Informative)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about a year ago | (#44687045)

Well, I do know Omnipage. It's been on the market for decades, and was acquired by Scansoft and then by Nuance, who are most well-known for their speech recognition technology.

The software used to be highly rated but fell in popularity over the years.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (2)

maroberts (15852) | about a year ago | (#44687491)

The software used to be highly rated but fell in popularity over the years.

That seems to be the usual point at which software companies turn into trolls.

Omnipage is a decent product (4, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44687565)

The software used to be highly rated but fell in popularity over the years.

I use Omnipage almost daily, mostly for the batch document processing and it's the best OCR software I've run across. (If you know of something better I'd love to hear about it) I use it to batch process work instructions and manufacturing orders so that I can search for them more easily. All I have to do is put a pdf (or other file) in a particular folder and it takes care of the rest. It really does a surprisingly good job of it.

Re:Omnipage is a decent product (3, Interesting)

BaphometAten (799044) | about a year ago | (#44688133)

We use Papervision Enterprise and Paperflow Pro both by Digitech Systems to batch scan and ocr thousands of pages a day. We have been quite happy with it for the 7 years that we have been using it.

Re:Omnipage is a decent product (3, Informative)

fast turtle (1118037) | about a year ago | (#44688355)

ReadIris is far better then OmniPage at OCR as it supports multiple Languages plus can scan PDF's and create them.

Re:Omnipage is a decent product (3, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44688869)

ReadIris is far better then OmniPage at OCR as it supports multiple Languages plus can scan PDF's and create them.

Omnipage 18 (the version I use) can scan PDFs and create them. I do that daily. Did you mean something else?

Multiple languages is interesting but not very useful to me since I only need English for what I do. I know Omnipage can recognize Asian characters and I'm pretty sure it can handle characters in most languages since they are mostly the same.

Re:Omnipage is a decent product (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | about a year ago | (#44690219)

TypeReader Pro http://www.expervision.com/ocr-software/desktop-ocr-typereader-7 [expervision.com]

Many years ago, I worked for a gov. subcontractor scanning and converting military documents to electronic form. We tried everything out at the time, and TypeReader Pro was by far the best.

Now that was years ago...but to date, I've never found anything that worked as good as it did.

Re:Omnipage is a decent product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44691331)

The last OCR I really admired was an M/Series (hardware board in an XT). It would show me a page full of splotches (old typewritten pages or carbons) and I'd go through them and identify what they should be. So no matter how ugly the splotch was, made by an old crooked "e" key with ink in the hollow, at varying key pressure or on irregular paper, I'd teach the program, all these things are "e" and those other things are these other keystrokes, or dirt, or ink scrawls. It took quite a while to go through the first five or six pages of a document.

And after that, it could run all night, processing hundreds of pages off that same typewriter, and do quite a very nice job of recognizing the text.

Then it'd let me look at the image behind each letter if I had any further education to offer it, after that first pass.

I loved that tool.

Then somebody bought them out, I forget, was it Calera, Caere, some other company name, I was young then and the dinosaurs still roamed.

It was the smartest, most educatable damned robot I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
> That splotch, there, that's always an "e" and this other one here is never an "e" but part of a "g" and this over here, just flag that for later ....
>> Beep! grind! ....

I bought it off my employer when they abandoned it for the new "smarter than you" stupid software -- apparently whoever bought the one I liked either wanted its software or wanted it off the market, as they never supported it. Used it for fun at home, but when I quit using the XT box, I quit using the OCR.

Not so many typewritten documents around these days, but when it was good, it was very good. I imagine they're still being used, for old printed/typed pages.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687123)

I suppose a mushroom may not heard of Nuance. But they are pretty well known by humans who use software applications.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (4, Informative)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44687297)

I hadn't heard of Nuance, but OmniPage has been the cream of the OCR crop for over a decade. I thought it was owned by the Omni Group (who bring us OmniGraffle, OmniFocus, OmniPlan and OmniOutliner), but it appears that's not the case. So the issue appears to be that Nuance doesn't market the company well, not that the product itself is unknown.

Wikipedia says

OmniPage is an optical character recognition application available from Nuance Communications.

OmniPage was one of the first OCR programs to run on personal computers.[1] It was developed in the late 1980s and sold by Caere Corporation, a company headed by Robert Noyce. The original developers were Philip Bernzott, John Dilworth, David George, Bryan Higgins, and Jeremy Knight.[2][3][4] Caere was acquired by ScanSoft in 2000.[5] ScanSoft acquired Nuance Communications in 2005, and took over its name.[6]

OmniPage supports more than 120 different languages.[7]

That said, I fail to see how there could be a valid patent dispute... patents still last 20 years, right? 20 years ago was 1993, by which point OmniPage was already a very mature product (they'd been perfecting multilingual OCR on crappy fax-level document scans for 13 years by that point). Any actual novel inventions (software or otherwise) should have already been released to the public. In fact, I believe ABBYY moved from translation services into the OCR realm about the year 2000, when some of the original OCR patents had expired.

ABBYY was founded in 1989 by David Yang[4] and was named BIT Software before 1997. ABBYY Group headquarters are located in Moscow with representative offices in Germany (Munich), the UK (Theale), the USA (Milpitas, CA), Japan (Tokyo), Taiwan (Taipei), Russia (Moscow), Ukraine (Kiev), Canada (Ontario), Australia (Sydney), and Cyprus.[5] In 2007, a branch specializing in publishing dictionaries, reference books, encyclopedias and guide-books, ABBYY Press, was established.[6] ABBYY also owns ABBYY Language Services, a high-tech translation and localization agency.[7]

These guys have been squabbling for the past decade, as each encroaches further onto the other's turf.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year ago | (#44687773)

So that says something. Not to say that you know every technology's owner because so many are invisible (or until you infringe on tthem), but when someone says one product everyone knows about infringes on a product no one knows about, the product no one knows about must not be all that hot afterall.

How about Apple's Siri, heard of that? Nuance powers the speech recognition. They don't have a ton of consumer-facing products, but they are in fact very well-known in the technology industry.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44689435)

They don't have a ton of consumer-facing products, but they are in fact very well-known in the technology industry.
The text -to-speech on my Android is Nuance as well. Also, heard of Dragon Naturally Speaking? That's Nuance now.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about a year ago | (#44691265)

They don't have a ton of consumer-facing products, but they are in fact very well-known in the technology industry.

The text -to-speech on my Android is Nuance as well. Also, heard of Dragon Naturally Speaking? That's Nuance now.

Most of the call centers with the annoying speech recognition are running off a Nuance engine, too. On the plus side, I have found that some companies will route you to to an agent quicker if you swear at it.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44687791)

Well, I have heard of both, as has just about anybody who works with OCR at all.
They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Abbyy tends to have better accuracy overall. I think the biggest weaknesses on both of their parts is that they are not putting as much effort into the engines anymore and are putting more effort into ancillary crap that is best left to third party vendors that know what they are doing. In a lot of cases, they are marketing products that directly compete with companies who have licensed their OCR engines. That's gotta be a kick in the nuts to their customers.

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44688713)

They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Abbyy tends to have better accuracy overall.

I use ABBYY FineReader on an occasional basis. Compared to other proprietary OCR software, one strength of Abbyy is that it is relatively lightweight and runs fast. It's absolutely not the bloated POS that Nuance Omnipage is. And it doesn't have that MS ribbon-style interface and other UI novelties that substantially deviate from what is "tried and true".

Re:I have heard of ABBYY, I have not heard of Nuan (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#44689503)

They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Abbyy tends to have better accuracy overall.

I use ABBYY FineReader on an occasional basis. Compared to other proprietary OCR software, one strength of Abbyy is that it is relatively lightweight and runs fast. It's absolutely not the bloated POS that Nuance Omnipage is. And it doesn't have that MS ribbon-style interface and other UI novelties that substantially deviate from what is "tried and true".

I'll agree with that. The only things I care about are speed and accuracy. I just want an SDK to hit. I don't need a UI. I want this stuff to run lights out. If I need a UI for something, I will build it, thank you very much. Just concentrate on making your core product better.

Now that's a good firm name (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year ago | (#44686965)

Mofo, huh? Certainly a bit more aggressively named that the local FAPlawfirm - I had to restrain myself from making a comment the first time one of their associates gave me his email address.

Re:Now that's a good firm name (2)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#44687987)

The MoFos represented Novell vs. SCOX.
I believe they were on the Oracle team in Oracle v. Google, but my memory may be off there.

Re:Now that's a good firm name (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44687989)

Mofo, huh? Certainly a bit more aggressively named that the local FAPlawfirm - I had to restrain myself from making a comment the first time one of their associates gave me his email address.

I just installed some Spanish front wheel bearing kits on my 300SD... the brand on the box is "FAG". I was wondering why the American page I bought them from said they were made by a reputable european company, but didn't tell me which one.

FAG Detector (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44692915)

I just installed some Spanish front wheel bearing kits on my 300SD... the brand on the box is "FAG"

Is that the same FAG, a Schaeffler Group company, that makes the vibration measuring tool it calls the FAG Detector III [fag-detectoriii.de] ?

Re:FAG Detector (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44693687)

Looks like the same logo. I'd guess yes. The box is light on details.

All OCR vendors are BATSHITE INSANE (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687245)

I do developer support for software company that specializes in SDKs that includes (among other things) a pluggable OCR module that has a few OCR engine options... (hence, replying anon) and it's been my experience that all OCR vendors are batshite insane when it comes to trying to protect their intellectual property.

We used to sell ABBYY as one of our engines, but it was such an unmitigated clusterfark to get the licensing working that we ended up dropping them... internally, we still refer to them as "the OCR engine that shall not be named".

One engine we currently have requires physical dongles for developers and will quite deliberately crash if you attempt to attach a debugger to the process (good luck troubleshooting stuff)

One or our engineers worked for a month back and forth trying to just get an evaluation license for one OCR engine and in the end, the process was deemed so egregious we stopped selling their product too.

I really like the Tesseract engine (a Google Code open source project) but it's slower and less accurate than several of the commercial offerings and is missing features that some folks just can't live without.

I've used OmniPage ... many many years ago, and their OCR engine wasn't bad back in the day - but couldn't comment nowadays.

Re:All OCR vendors are BATSHITE INSANE (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44687313)

I've used OmniPage ... many many years ago, and their OCR engine wasn't bad back in the day - but couldn't comment nowadays.

It used to be a great seller back in the early 90's when I was working Mac tech support. The odd thing is, I tried it out a few years ago (c. 2008) on a modern Windows machine and it seemed to be just as accurate as when I used it on an SE/30 in '93.

Re:All OCR vendors are BATSHITE INSANE (4, Informative)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#44687391)

I've used tesseract + ghoscript as a front end to do OCRs of PDF documents. From my experience, tesseract is OK if you have original images that are pretty high quality (300 DPI minimum) printed using standard fonts with pretty standard layouts (the newest versions mostly works OK with a basic 2 column format). You'll still only get results in the high 90% range (which sounds good but is actually pretty atrocious compared to high-end OCR systems that are well up into the 9's for reliability). Oh, and even though you specify a language, tesseract has very little contextual knowledge of what it is scanning so you'll regularly see it run together two letters in properly spelled words to come up with mispelled words.

Oh, and you have to have a blacklist of characters since tesseract is absolutely in love with the idea of the letter A with the circle coming out of the top even though you tell tesseract that you are specifically scanning English documents where you just have the plain ordinary letter "A". A few other characters are like that too.

If, however you leave the reservation of high-quality scans of standard black & white printed text with normal layouts, tesseract quickly turns into a lovely random noise generator.

Re:All OCR vendors are BATSHITE INSANE (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about a year ago | (#44689091)

tesseract is absolutely in love with the idea of the letter A with the circle coming out of the top even though you tell tesseract that you are specifically scanning English

That character is used as an abbreviation for "angstroms" in English, which is probably why specifying English doesn't eliminate it. Of course, if the software was smart it would realize that the probability of an A-like character being an angstrom sign rather than an "A" is very small, especially if the preceding character wasn't a numeric digit (possibly with a space in between).

And nothing of value was lost/gained (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687449)

We use Nuance overpriced server-side OCR solutions, it's shit, even our onboard Konica Minolta OCR solutions do a better job.

Re:And nothing of value was lost/gained (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687783)

And nothing of value was lost/gained

Totally true, but only in the closed system composed of ABBYY, Nuance and both sets of lawyers. If you chose to divide the system any other way (say with the lawyers on the outside of the system), then once again, as with every other IP/copyright/patent lawsuit, there has been a net loss from the system. In other words, the only ones really winning in this stupid game are the lawyers. Everyone else is like a gambler praying for the big one, or deluting themselves into thinking their lucky run can go on forever.

Bad news for Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44687825)

against Russian competitor

Well, there's your problem. Light up the torches and gather up the pitch forks. Time to really get this show on the road!

Don't (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44688105)

Can't tell but it seems this is not about the dancing bear of OCR but rather its use and package layout?

If so, of even less interest.

How is ABBYY formed? (2)

radarskiy (2874255) | about a year ago | (#44688829)

How is ABBYY formed?

Re:How is ABBYY formed? (2)

jamiesan (715069) | about a year ago | (#44690457)

She's Normalized.

Sordid history of Nuance (2)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#44691865)

If you know anything at all of the sordid history of this company, from its beginnings as a Xerox division, to its spinoff as ScanSoft, to its sneaky assimilation of former biggest competitors and continuing to sell multiple formerly competing products including OmniPage, to its current incarnation as Nuance, this lawsuit would not surprise you but the verdict might. Nuance has been getting its way far too often over much of the last decade, and no doubt expected getting its way with this lawsuit. Bazinga, bastards!

Sorry about the paywall everybody (1)

rtobyr (846578) | about a year ago | (#44696407)

They must have paywalled it after I submitted the story. It was not paywalled at the time of submission.
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