Chinese Company Sues Apple Over Siri

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

Follow on: Google +

Apple’s latest legal challenge comes from a Chinese company claiming Siri’s technology infringes on its voice-recognition patents

Apple has been hit by a lawsuit from a Chinese company claiming Apple’s digital concierge, Siri, infringes on its patents.

According to a report in China Daily, the Shanghai-based company, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology, is suing Apple and asserting the company infringes on a voice technology patent owned by Zhizhen. The company sent Apple a legal notice in May but Apple’s lawyers did not respond, according to the report.

Now, a Shanghai court will reportedly hear the case.

Xiao i Robot

“We have 100 million users in China, and many companies are using our product,” chairman Yuan Hui told China Daily in an interview on Friday.

Zhizhen’s patented technology powers Xiao i Robot software, which allows users to ask questions and can respond to voice commands.

Siri, which can also respond to spoken commands, was originally introduced as an iOS application available in the App Store by Siri, Inc., which was acquired by Apple in 2010.

“Our only demand is that Apple stop infringing on our patent and cover the court costs,” Yuan told China Daily.

Apple has been shelling out quite a bit of cash lately to Chinese firms. On 2 July, the Associated Press reported Apple had agreed to pay Shenzhen Proview Technology $60 million (£39m) to use the iPad name in China.

The matter appears to settle an ongoing lawsuit between the two companies about which one really owns the name “iPad”. Apple has maintained that it purchased the global rights to the iPad name in 2009, but in December, a Chinese court ruled that it hadn’t purchased the name for use in China.

Motorola case

In June, a 20-month-old legal fight between Apple and Motorola over alleged patent-infringement claims ended when a trial judge dismissed the case after lashing some of Apple’s key legal arguments in his 38-page court decision.

The two companies have been fighting in court over the design of their competing mobile devices. Instead of seeking damages for the alleged infringements, Apple sought an injunction to protect it in the future from what the company claimed was irreparable damage from continued infringements of its patents by Motorola, the judge wrote.

Is Microsoft Office your friend? Take our quiz.