A Shanghai company that recently received a Chinese patent for a voice assistant similar to Apple’s, Siri, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the Cupertino company. If the action is successful, the Chinese company could prevent the American technology giant from selling many of its products in its most important market outside the United States.
The amount claimed for damages estimated at approximately 1.43 billion dollars. At stake are the products of the iPhone and iPad manufacturer that violated a patent that the Chinese artificial intelligence company has for a virtual assistant, whose technical architecture is similar to that of Siri.
Shanghai Zhizhen wants Apple to pay $ 1.43 billion
Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology said today that it is processing Apple by damage estimated at 10 billion yuan in a Shanghai court. The artificial intelligence company claims that Apple uses technology at Siri that is patented by itself.
According to the China company, the Cupertino giant's virtual assistant has a technical architecture similar to Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology's virtual assistant.
Apple has enabled Siri with the ability to activate from a voice command on iPhone, iPad, computers, etc. Users can thus use their voice to dictate text messages or set alarms on their most varied devices.
Thus, Shanghai Zhizhen, also known as Xiao-i, asked Apple to stop the sales, production and use of products that violate the patent. It should be noted that Siri is part of practically all devices of the American company.
The Supreme Court of China ruled in late June that Shanghai Zhizhen holds the patent for the virtual assistant in China. The decision ended an eight-year court battle between the two in Chinese courts.
In spite of the fact that the process goes ahead, a former Chinese judge says that an attempt to ban Siri is unlikely to succeed. This is because, although the court has ruled that the Chinese company's patent is valid, this technology underlying Siri's patent may be different enough to rule in favor of Apple.
China is Apple's strongest foreign market
China is Apple's most important foreign sales market, second only to the domestic market. The American brand has a considerable return from China, although it has recently seen Huawei make it more competitive. According to the data, Huawei overtook Apple in China and became the world's largest smartphone seller in the second quarter of the year, overtaking Samsung.
According to figures presented by Apple last week, sales in China rose slightly to $ 9.33 billion. Thus, this figure represents about 16% of its total revenue in the three months ended on 27 June. Behind this rise will be discounts on iPhone 11 models and China's recovery from the new coronavirus.
Wars between the US and China escalate
For more than a year, we have seen many conflicts over intellectual property, technology and security between the US and China. Last Friday, President Trump threatened to ban the Chinese app TikTok for national security reasons. However, in the race for the app would be Microsoft. So, at the moment, confusion reigns, Trump ordered the acquisition of the app to be banned and Microsoft was in an uncomfortable position.
Apple has had three intellectual property lawsuits in China since 2012. The first lawsuit prompted the apple company to agree to pay $ 60 million to resolve a trademark dispute with the Chinese company Proview International Holdings Ltd. owned by the name “iPad” in China.
Four years later, the Cupertino giant lost another trademark battle. At the time, a Beijing court ruled in favor of a Chinese company, Beijing Xintong Tiandi Technology, which produced bags, cases for smartphones and other leather goods with the “IPHONE” label.
So now, taking into account that in the previous two it won none, the company may have to pay a few million more to solve the problem.