Apple lost the first stage of a patent case in China over Siri, a virtual personal assistant on iPhone, when Beijing's First Intermediate Court ruled that the patent held by the Chinese firm that launched the suit was valid.
As early as 2012, Shanghai-based Zhizhen Internet Technology took Apple to court, claiming that the fruity firm’s Siri voice assistant had violates its speech-recognition technology.
Apple asked the patenting authority of China to declare Zhizhen’s patent invalid, but the authorities favored Zhizhen, validating its patent. In fact, the authorities gave the patent right to Zhizhen in 2009.
The technology giant challenged the decision in the court, but the Beijing Intermediate Court upheld the board’s decision on validity.
Apple doesn’t believe that its Siri infringes on the patent. “Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," am Apple spokesperson said in an email statement.
The fruity firm plans to bring the case to a higher court to see if it can reverse the result.
This isn’t Apple’s first patent case in China. Another well-known dispute was with Shenzhen WeiGuan Company from 2010. In the end, the tech giant paid WeiGuan $60 million to settle the dispute.
Even though Apple lost the Siri patent case in China so far, it’s still too early to say that Siri will be banned there, according to some Chinese reports. After all, Zhizhen hopes to reconcile with Apple. The lawsuit is just a way to reach that point.