Siri sued by Chinese company

A developer of a voice assistant application, Zhizhen Network Technology of Shanghai, China, has sued both Apple and its Shanghai subsidiary, Apple Computer Trading, claiming that Apple's Siri technology infringes on a patent it holds related to "a type of instant messaging chat bot system" that Zhizhen calls Xiaoi Bot.

Siri, of course, is the voice-activated personal assistant that features prominently in iOS. A video of a recent version of Xiaoi Bot in action can be seen below. The similarities are readily apparent, down to the almost identical microphone button.

Zhizhen's patent (ZL200410053749.9) was filed on August 13, 2004 and granted on February 15, 2006. Zhizhen claims that it contacted Apple in May 2012 in an attempt to settle the issue with Apple out of court, according to Marbridge Daily, which was first to report the case. Apple reportedly failed to respond, leading Zhizhen to file suit in a Shanghai court on June 21, 2012. On June 26, the courts announced that they will hear the case.

The lawsuit apparently does not request damages in any amount. However, a Zhizhen representative said that if the courts find that Apple did indeed infringe on Zhizhen's patent with Siri, or if Apple agrees to a settlement, the payment will likely be an even greater amount than the $60 million USD that Apple paid to settle its iPad trademark dispute with Proview.

Source: Marbridge Daily

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42 Comments

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Well seeing as the patents and designs were set a while before the new Siri interface, I would have to say that Apple are infringing on the patents. Blatant copies deserve compensation.

Considering China's record for swiping technology and mass producing cheap knockoffs on everything from autos to watches..... **** you China

funny this is Apple bought siri so how come the previous company who coded and produced it didn't get sued eh oh that's right why sue a noname when you can sue apple and get a lot more money

perhaps patent cases need to have an statute of limitation on them something along the line of if you don't sue the first creator then tough cheese

Athlonite said,
perhaps patent cases need to have an statute of limitation on them something along the line of if you don't sue the first creator then tough cheese

Your logic is flawed, I could create a Siri replica, market it under the radar for one month, and then sell it to my friend half way across the globe, making the Siri patent (if its a patent) void (using your logic).

WaqasTariq said,

Your logic is flawed, I could create a Siri replica, market it under the radar for one month, and then sell it to my friend half way across the globe, making the Siri patent (if its a patent) void (using your logic).

there's nothing wrong with my logic it's not like Siri was ever kept secret before being sold to apple Steve Wozniak was using it before apple bought it so where's the flaw they only waited to sue because now they have a chance at even more money from apple than from the original producers of Siri

what the... they totally ignore any 'western' patents.
yet if other non-Chinese based companies break a Chinese patent... sh*t hits the fan?

Shadowzz said,
what the... they totally ignore any 'western' patents.
yet if other non-Chinese based companies break a Chinese patent... sh*t hits the fan?

Just another company trying to steal money from stupid lawsuits most likely. If it was a REAL company they wouldn't stir up a news-storm. They would just file the paperwork and be done.

Who is honestly going to believe a Chinese company nowadays? After all the **** they pull with kirf and putting the name iPad on food blenders and other ****.

Septimus said,
Who is honestly going to believe a Chinese company nowadays? After all the **** they pull with kirf and putting the name iPad on food blenders and other ****.

u mad bro? food blenders are a completely different industry. Thats why apple music studio can keep it's name, since apple computer. isn't in the market of producing records.

SirEvan said,

Thats why apple music studio can keep it's name, since apple computer. isn't in the market of producing records.

Possibly... Or could it be the $500 million Apple Computer Inc paid to Apple Corps?

Know the facts.

That was about allowing Apple to move into the music market. Trademarks are still generally industry-specific. It's about potential customer confusion, not literally whether the some names match.

LOL this is how patent system goes.

1. Someone/ A company creates a product but don't know that another company has patents for it.
2. The company that patent the product got (p)iss(ed) cuz someone stole it from them.
3. The company (that has the patents) brings the company (who brings the product to the market) to court and fines it for stealing the idea.

Chica Ami said,
LOL this is how patent system goes.

1. Someone/ A company creates a product but don't know that another company has patents for it.
2. The company that patent the product got (p)iss(ed) cuz someone stole it from them.
3. The company (that has the patents) brings the company (who brings the product to the market) to court and fines it for stealing the idea.


If a company creates a product but doesn't know that another company has patents for it (and presumably doesn't know that the other product exists), how can it be called stealing?

Ledgem said,

If a company creates a product but doesn't know that another company has patents for it (and presumably doesn't know that the other product exists), how can it be called stealing?

Because that's how patents work. Ignorance ("I didn't know!") never works as a defense so you're pretty much required to do a lot of research or hire a lot of lawyers to avoid infringement. However, smaller regional/local businesses are less likely to be hit by lawsuits because of their obscurity and businesses with different markets don't often battle much because they aren't after the same customers.

It's really a broken system.

Ledgem said,

If a company creates a product but doesn't know that another company has patents for it (and presumably doesn't know that the other product exists), how can it be called stealing?

Because, what if you DID know about the patents but simply said "Ohhh I didn't know about those!"

There's no way to prove it. The best way to secure someone's unique idea is through patents. Now are patents overused and not really reserved to "unique" things anymore? Yep. But patents in general are an excellent idea.

How in the heck does any one have a patent for an interactive chat bot? They've been around in one platform or form for a lot longer than 2004. It's all just next logical step. And seriously, it's not any more "instant messaging" that a computer response to a voice query in any scfifi tv/movie from basically ever.

Xerax said,
Who came first? Because if that was first, it look's like a direct copy by apple.

The patent was granted in 2006. You do the math

siah1214 said,

The patent was granted in 2006. You do the math

Don't mean the patent . I mean the app inn the video.

siah1214 said,

The patent was granted in 2006. You do the math

And filed in 2004.

Siri seems to be very similar to the Xiaoi Bot, but has it converged with Siri since Siri was released? Are they merely converging, or has one copied the other?

For instance, that microphone button has to be copied. Who had it first? Are they stealing ideas from each other, or does it only go one way?

This might turn out to be very interesting.

Xerax said,

Don't mean the patent . I mean the app inn the video.

Good question. When did the Siri-like features and that microphone button, when did they show up? What version?

Xerax said,
Who came first? Because if that was first, it look's like a direct copy by apple.

Apple didn't copy anything, the developers of the original Siri app did (unless Apple dramatically changed the interface when they bought it? I never saw the original app)

andrewbares said,

Apple didn't copy anything, the developers of the original Siri app did (unless Apple dramatically changed the interface when they bought it? I never saw the original app)

Doesn't matter, when one company buys another, unless it is specified in the purchase contract, the buying company assumes all responsibilities of the company being bought. If Apple puts software on the market with their name on it, they are responsible for making sure they are not violating any patents.

andrewbares said,

Apple didn't copy anything, the developers of the original Siri app did (unless Apple dramatically changed the interface when they bought it? I never saw the original app)

And didnt Apple buy siri from the original devs? Apple is directly responsible to look in to any company they buy to make sure they are not infringing on patents. Apple took them over, so now Apple takes responsibility.

siah1214 said,
The patent was granted in 2006. You do the math
http://www.quora.com/Apple-Pro...is-Siri-important?q=Why+sir

Siri is based around an idea much older than 2004, even though its original company wasn't founded until 2007 as a spin off from PAL ( https://pal.sri.com/Plone/framework ), which has published related articles since at least 2003 ( https://pal.sri.com/Plone/publications ).

rfirth said,
Siri seems to be very similar to the Xiaoi Bot, but has it converged with Siri since Siri was released? Are they merely converging, or has one copied the other?
Considering the originating country, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it's the Chinese company that is doing the copying.

It's incredibly unlikely that Apple both stole their technology (that they purchased a company for) as well as the icon from the same company. On the other hand, a company in China is going to have no qualms with copying everything from a competitor, including their imagery. Just like the Apple Store look-alikes that crop up around China.

Looking at the video, which one looks out of place: everything else in the application, or the metallic microphone? The microphone that looks at home in iOS, and almost certainly stolen directly from iOS.

It's laughable that China even has patents considering how much their companies stomp on those from outside of China only so that they can cry foul when you come inside over something that they likely copied anyway, or that they sold in the first place (iPad trademark anyone?).

Xerax said,

Don't mean the patent . I mean the app inn the video.

The video was uploaded July 4th 2012 which suggest they have made it look like Siri on purpose

Xerax said,

Don't mean the patent . I mean the app inn the video.

The video was uploaded July 4th 2012 which suggests they have made their app look just like Siri on purpose

It's not the first time Apple has stolen something, remember that developer last year or the year before submitted his app for inclusion in the app store, Apple rejected it, and not that long after Apple came out with a similar app using the same logo that the developer came up with.

Asrokhel said,
It's not the first time Apple has stolen something, remember that developer last year or the year before submitted his app for inclusion in the app store, Apple rejected it, and not that long after Apple came out with a similar app using the same logo that the developer came up with.

Who cares, they're all ripping off the Star Trek The Next Generation computer natural language interaction. Picard should sue both of them.

nohone said,

Doesn't matter, when one company buys another, unless it is specified in the purchase contract, the buying company assumes all responsibilities of the company being bought. If Apple puts software on the market with their name on it, they are responsible for making sure they are not violating any patents.

Perhaps they did make sure they weren't and this Chinese company is full of it they may have just paid an corrupt patent office worker to fake the patent and when it was supposedly granted ever thought of that it wouldn't be the first time

Athlonite said,

Perhaps they did make sure they weren't and this Chinese company is full of it they may have just paid an corrupt patent office worker to fake the patent and when it was supposedly granted ever thought of that it wouldn't be the first time

I am not saying Apple did it on purpose. They may not have known. But kinda suspicious they didnt respond to the Chinese company. Regardless, they are responsible for whatever they buy.

Xerax said,
Who came first? Because if that was first, it look's like a direct copy by apple.

Yes, it is easy to watch this video and say, WOW, direct copy!! But the article says that this is the latest version of the app. As in, it could have been updated after Apple started releasing information about Siri. Everyone tries to make their own products look like Apple's, this may be no different.

I am not saying the case should not be looked at. I am just saying, don't freak out about the microphone button or the overall look and feel unless you know for a fact that this product had that same look over 2 years ago.

nohone said,

Doesn't matter, when one company buys another, unless it is specified in the purchase contract, the buying company assumes all responsibilities of the company being bought. If Apple puts software on the market with their name on it, they are responsible for making sure they are not violating any patents.

We know, but that's not the point being made here. Apple didn't COPY anything. Meaning that developers at Apple didn't sit there and look at this Chinese app and mirror their interface. The developers of the original Siri app did that. People like to think developers at Apple did the actual copying.

But anyways none of that would matter if this chinese "app" was proven fake.