Apple Hit With $1.4bn Lawsuit From Chinese AI Firm

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Long running dispute. Xiao-i alleges in a Chinese court that Apple’s voice-recognition tech in Siri infringes on its artificial intelligence patents

Apple is facing another lawsuit from Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co Ltd, which is otherwise known as Xiao-i.

Xiao-i has been clashing with Apple for the best part of a decade, and now the firm has filed a lawsuit in a local Chinese court, alleging Apple has infringed on its patents.

According to Reuters, Xiao-i is calling for 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion or £1.1 billion) in damages and is demanding that Apple cease “manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling, and importing” products that infringe on the patent, it announced in a social media post.

Siri tech

It seems that Xiao-i objected to Apple’s voice-recognition technology used by Siri, which it alleges infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004 and was granted in 2009.

But Apple is not biting and continues to refute Xiao-i’s allegations.

In a statement, Apple was quoted by Reuters as saying that its Siri does not contain features included in the Xiao-i patent, which the iPhone maker argues relates to games and instant messaging.

The iPad maker also said that independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People’s Court have concluded that Apple does not infringe Xiao-i Robot’s technology.

“We are disappointed Xiao-i Robot has filed another lawsuit,” Apple reportedly said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting the facts to the court and we will continue to focus on delivering the best products and services in the world to our customers.”

Long-running dispute

It seems that the bad blood between the two firms has existed for a while now.

Silicon UK reported back in 2012 that Shanghai Zhizhen had first sued Apple for patent infringement over Siri’s its voice-recognition technology.

When that case was not resolved, Apple then countersued, taking Zhizhen and China’s State Intellectual Property Office to court to seek a ruling that Zhizhen’s patent rights to the speech recognition technology were invalid.

But in 2014 Apple lost that case when the Beijing First Intermediate Court ruled against it.

However Apple said at the time that it would appeal its case to the Beijing Higher People’s Court.

Eventually in July, China’s Supreme People’s court ruled that the Zhizhen patent was valid.

Siri acquisition

It should be remembered that Apple did not develop Siri itself.

Apple actually acquired Siri Inc in 2010, after that company had developed the intelligent personal assistant back in 2007.

Apple then incorporated Siri in its iPhone handsets in 2011.

And Apple has been stung in Chinese courts before.

In 2011 for example, Apple lost the right to to use the iPad trademark in China, after Chinese courts rejected Apple’s claim to the name after it accused Proview Technology of infringing on its iPad trademark.

Apple was later forced to pay $60 million (£38.2m) to Proview Technology in July 2012 in order to settle the dispute.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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