Apple loses patent claim battle against Chinese Siri

siri

A Beijing court has ruled against Apple, upholding the validity of a patent for a “type of instant messaging chat bot system” held by a Chinese company.

Zhizhen Internet Technology sued Apple back in 2012, claiming that virtual assistant Siri was infringing on the Chinese company’s patented idea for a so-called Xiaoi Bot. The Chinese bot was patented in 2004 — two years before the first Siri-related patent filing was made.

Tuesday’s Beijing court ruling paves the way for Zhizhen to continue its case against Apple for intellectual property infringement. Apple’s defense? That it never heard of Zhizhen’s technology prior to creating Siri.

“Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen’s patent before we introduced Siri (speech recognition technology) and we do not believe we are using this patent,” a Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman said following the verdict.

Apple says its next move is to take the case to the Beijing Higher People’s Court, according to Chinese newspaper The People’s Daily. In the meantime, Cupertino claims it remains “open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen.”

Given that Siri is likely to be an increasingly large part of Apple’s interface plans going forward, this could prove to be a spanner in the works.

  • Adrayven

    Which makes me wonder why they don’t for Google’s own assistant? What exactly makes Siri so different? or are they going to gun for Google next?

    • Nick V

      I’m not sure your question is even valid. Are you an Apple attorney? Google isn’t doing the same thing as Apple, so there shouldn’t be the same issue. Also, Google’s Bots have been around since 1998, and have been enhanced throughout that time.

  • Windlasher

    I thought you couldn’t patent an idea, only the implementation of it. Unless Apple borrowed code then I don’t see an issue other than a Chinese court siding with a Chinese company.

    • freedotz

      It’s China… First rule of business, stay out of China and Africa — they steal everything

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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