Shanghai voice assistant lawsuit could get Siri banned in China

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Apple has been battling with the company for years.
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A company based in Shanghai has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit that could stop Apple from offering products with its Siri voice assistant in China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The company, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology, is suing Apple for 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) due to Siri reportedly infringing on its intellectual property for an A.I. voice assistant. China’s Supreme Court ruled in June that the company owns the patent for a virtual assistant in China, concluding an eight-year court battle.

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology created Xiaoi Bot. This “instant messaging chat bot system” is based on a patent dating back to 2004, close to a decade before Siri debuted.

Apple could theoretically block Siri in China, but it would be a major headache for the company to have to navigate. Since arriving on iPhone in 2011, Siri has gradually expanded to multiple Apple devices — including the iPad, Mac, Apple TV and HomePod.

This is just the latest challenge Apple faces when doing business in China. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously called the country Apple’s future biggest market. However, lawsuits such as this show what kind of obstacles Apple might encounter.