Apple Hit by Siri-Related Patent Infringement Lawsuit in China
Apple Inc. has gotten into another patent lawsuit in China, as Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co. Ltd., developer of the voice technology called Xiao i Robot, has reported that Siri has infringed on one of its patents.
Yuan Hui, Chairman of Zhizhen, said that a legal notice was sent to Apple Inc. in May, but the company gave no reponse. Yuan reported that the lawsuit was filed on June 21, and a Shanghai court has announced on June 26 to hear the case “quite soon”.
According to the database of the country's State Intellectual Property Office, Zhizhen's patent reports "a type of instant messaging chat robot system". This patent was filed on Aug 13, 2004, and got approved on Feb 15, 2006. Siri Inc. started developing its mobile virtual assistant in 2007, and Apple acquired the company in 2010.
Yuan reported that Xiao i Robot can not only communicate and take part in simple conversations, but can also answer users’ questions. This software is available on mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, and has been used in Windows Live Messenger for a long time. Lenovo Group Ltd., three major telecom operators, government agencies, banks and other financial institutions are using this software.
"We have 100 million users in China, and many companies are using our product," Yuan told China Daily on Friday.
Siri came to China with iPhone 4S early this year, and the company launched Siri services in Mandarin and Cantonese in June. At this time, Zhizhen has not taken a strict stance, legally. "Our only demand is that Apple stop infringing on our patent and cover the court costs," Yuan said.
“People feel that China has no innovation, that companies here just copy. But this is a misunderstanding,” Yuan added. “We are a leader in our field, and we have created our own innovation.”
Recently, Apple Inc. settled an iPad trademark issue with Proview in China. Apple Inc. has also been hit by a suit this week from Jiangsu Xuebao Daily Chemical Co. Ltd. on the “Snow Leopard” trademark.