Since the iPhone 4S era, all iPhones have been using the Siri voice assistant. Siri was founded in 2007 and was initially based on text chat services. In 2010, it was acquired by Apple for $200 million. Then, through cooperation with Nuance, the world’s largest voice recognition manufacturer, Siri realized the voice recognition function. Although the iPhone has been using this feature for 10 years, it may have been infringing on a Chinese company’s patent.
According to reports, recently Xiaoi Robot (Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd.) filed an application (injunction) with the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, demanding that Apple immediately stop patent infringement involving Siri. The company wants Apple to stop the production, use, or sale of Siri.
The Shanghai Higher People’s Court accepted Xiaoi’s application for an injunction yesterday. This means that the case is now in progress. However, according to sources, the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China has previously issued (2017) Supreme Law Xingzai No. 34 Administrative Judgment, and the final judgment ruled that Apple Computer Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. lost the lawsuit and confirmed the validity of the aforementioned patent rights for Xiaoi Robot.
In August last year, Xiaoi Robot filed a lawsuit with the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, formally requesting Apple to stop patent infringement and pay 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in compensation.
The patent infringement refers to the assistant Xiaoi, born as a chatbot for MSN and similar networks, to then migrate to other platforms, notably Android and iOS. The Chinese company has obtained the patent in 2009 while Siri was debuted in 2011. Apple will therefore once again have to justify itself for this patent. This court case can last for many years to come.
Apple is not new to lawsuits
When it comes to lawsuits and handling them, big companies like Apple do not fret themselves. This is because they practically deal with dozens of lawsuits annually. This has become an integral part of their everyday operation. No doubt, Apple will have to defend Siri in court. Nevertheless, its first loss, in this case, is a huge blow to the company. In the end, even if Apple loses, it will only have to pay some money and that’s it.
Many startups register for these patents for one reason, to use them to get money from bigger companies. This has become a strategy for smaller companies to get funds. Most of these small companies do not use the invention that they patented.