Apple Fighting Patent Infringement Case in Shanghai over Siri

Apple has been accused of copyright infringement by a Chinese company that is claiming Siri is a derivative of one of its patents.

Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.Photo: kelsen06/Flickr

Apple is facing another court battle this week with a Chinese firm, Zhizhen Network Technology Co., claiming the iPhone-maker infringes its patents in its Siri app.

Representatives of Apple appeared in a Shanghai court yesterday to respond to the case filed by Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co, the developer of a voice technology called Xiao i Robot.

The firm claimed it filed a patent for the “Xiao i Robot” software in 2004, which was approved two years later. Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.

Xiao i Robot has 100 million users in China, according to Zhizhen’s marketing department.

In Tuesday’s court session, Apple’s lawyers argued that the two function in a similar way but use different technology, reports the Telegraph.

“One can achieve the same results through various means,” a lawyer for Apple saying.

“Apple has its own technology for Siri, which is totally different from the plaintiff’s,” said the lawyer, whose name was not given.

Apple is arguing that Zhizhen’s patent claims are not clear and can’t identify where Siri is infringing on this patent. Moreover, SIRI and Zhizhen companies have adopted different technical routes which do not constitute infringement.

In the afternoon trial, Zhizhen agents demonstrated little i robot and SIRI functions, to prove both implementations are similar. Apple’s representative disagreed, they think Siri is a smart personal assistant, and Zhi Zhen’s patent covers a chatting robot that mainly chats and play games; the two are completely different, inform Patently Apple.

The Cupertino firm recently announced several new features for Siri as part of its upcoming iOS 7 operating system, including name pronunciation and the ability to book hotels, writes Digital Spy.

Zhizhen argue that Apple should stop making and selling products in China that come with the Siri application preloaded, including the iPhone 5 and the latest iPad.

Yuan Yang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, said, “Our main goal at the current stage is to let the court validate our claim regarding the infringement.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of mediation or compensation, but they are to be considered in the future,” he said.

A statement by the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court confirmed the session, which followed a pre-trial hearing in March. The court made no ruling on Tuesday.

Si Weijiang, another lawyer representing Zhizhen, said the decision of the State Intellectual Property Office would be available in August and that the court would probably wait for the ruling.

This latest court battle comes after Apple paid a Chinese firm $60m for the use of the “iPad” name, following a lawsuit last year.

This is the third time Apple has been sued in China for patent infringement.

Earlier, Jiangsu Xuebao Daily Chemical Co Ltd had alleged the Chinese translation of Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard infringed its trademark rights. The case is still on.

Apple products are hugely popular in China, and chief executive Tim Cook said in January he expects the country to surpass the United States as its largest market.

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