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China could ban the iPhone and iPad as Apple loses Siri patent case

Bejing court upholds Zhizhen Network Technology patent
Wed Jul 09 2014, 16:22

apple-siriA COURT IN CHINA has ruled that Apple's Siri infringes patents owned by Chinese company Zhizhen Network Technology, a decision which could see the iPhone and iPad banned in the country.

Zhizhen sued Apple in 2012 for patent infringement. It accused the firm of infringing its voice-related patents used in its Xiao i Robot software in Siri, after the Apple had added Mandarin and Cantonese language support to the digital assistant.

However, Apple had claimed, and still does, that it had never heard of Zhizhen's technology prior to creating Siri.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that a Bejing court has ruled against Apple, upholding the speech recognition patent held by Zhizhen. The Shanghai-based firm is now asking the court to block sales of the iPhone and iPad in the country.

Apple said that, unsurprisingly, it will appeal to the Beijing Higher People's Court.

An Apple spokesperson said, "Apple believes deeply in protecting innovation, and we take intellectual property rights very seriously. 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.

"While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen," the spokeswoman added.

Zhizhen declined to comment on the ruling. When the case first went to court last year however, a spokesperson for the firm said, "We noticed iPhone 4S' digital assistance Siri copied Xiao i Robot's artificial intelligence technology when it came out in 2011. Our main goal at the current stage is to let the court validate our claim regarding the infringement.

"We are not ruling out the possibility of mediation or compensation, but they are to be considered in the future." µ.


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