A patent dispute over Siri has escalated just before the release of the iPhone 13: A company wants to ban the sale, production and distribution of it.
Shanghai Zhi Zhen Intelligent Network Technology, known as Xiao iRobot, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the Republic of China on 7 September 2021. Their aim? They want Apple to stop manufacturing, selling and exporting iPhones with Siri because the iPhones allegedly infringed on their patents.
It seems that the Chinese company is taking advantage of the increased interest in the upcoming iPhone which his expected to be released at an Apple event on 14 September.
The patent dispute between the Chinese company and Apple has been dragging on for almost ten years. It was back in June 2012 that Xiao iRobot first sued Apple for patent infringement. The company filed for a patent for a technology that can answer spoken questions in China in 2004. This patent was granted in 2006.
Apple introduced its voice assistant Siri soon after the software was presented in a keynote in October 2011. Siri was the result of Apple’s April 2010 purchase of the company that developed the solution. Prior to the sale to Apple, Siri was developed in a joint project between the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center and the Vrai Group at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and used a speech recognition engine provided by Nuance Communications.
In August 2019 there were reports of a lawsuit by the company against Siri or for the infringed patents. Then in August 2020 Shanghai Zhi Zhen Intelligent Network Technology demanded compensation of around $1.4 billion from Apple.
These lawsuits evidently came to nothing, because there were no reports of Apple ever paying anything to the company and the production and sale of iPhones in China has never been stopped.
Regarging the news, which comes via a South China Morning Post report, Patently Apple highlights that Apple provided a statement in 2020 relating to this, stating: “Siri does not contain features included in their patent, which relates to games and instant messaging … Independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People’s Court have also concluded that Apple does not infringe Xiao-i Robot’s technology.”
The Chinese voice assistant is limited to games and instant messaging, while Siri is much more universal.
However, in June last year, China’s Supreme Court ruled that Xiao-i Robot’s patent was valid, according to Patently Apple.
This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by Karen Haslam.