China Business News, 7/04/12
Shanghai-based voice assistant developer Zhizhen Network Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple and its Shanghai subsidiary Apple Computer Trading, alleging that Apple's Siri voice assistant app infringes on one of Zhizhen's patents (ZL200410053749.9). According to the patent database of China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), the patent, for "a type of instant messaging chat bot system" called Xiaoi Bot, was filed on August 13, 2004, and approved on February 15, 2006.
Zhizhen claims that it sent a legal notice to Apple in May 2012 seeking to resolve the patent dispute through mediation, but Apple did not respond after receiving the letter. Zhizhen filed the suit on June 21 and the Shanghai courts announced on June 26 that they will hear the case. A source within the court system confirmed that the lawsuit is currently in pre-trial negotiations. Though the case at this point does not involve any request for compensation, a Zhizhen representative said that if the court rules Apple did infringe on Zhizhen's patent or if Apple agrees to a settlement, the amount of compensation will likely exceed the USD 60 mln settlement in Apple's recent iPad trademark dispute.
Editor's Note: For more background on this topic, please see "Apple Pays USD 60 Mln to Settle iPad Case in China" MD 7/02/12 issue.