Apple faces $1.4 billion patent lawsuit and a potential ban from selling all products featuring Siri in China

9 Aug, 2020 08:02
source: Singularity Financial

Singularity Financial Hong Kong August 09, 2020 – Chinese firm Shanghai Zhizhen, which was recently awarded a local patent for a voice assistant similar to Apple’s Siri, has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against the iPhone maker that, if successful, could prevent Apple from selling its smartphones and other products in China, its second most important market.

Chinese artificial intelligence company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd., also known as Xiao-i, has alleged that Apple’s devices violated its patent for a virtual assistant that is similar to Siri, and the company is suing Apple for around 10 billion yuan in damages (around $1.4 billion).

Xiao-i argued that Apple’s voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004 and was granted in 2009. As part of the suit, Shanghai Zhizhen has asked Apple to stop the sales, production, and use of products that allegedly violate its patent.

The lawsuit marks the continuation of a row that has been ongoing for nearly a decade.

Shanghai Zhizhen first sued Apple for patent infringement in 2012 regarding its voice recognition technology. In July, China’s Supreme People’s court ruled that the patent was valid.

Apple integrates Siri in nearly all its devices including its Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, Apple TV and its smart speaker the Homepod.

China is Apple’s biggest foreign market in terms of sales, although it has faced significant competition from homegrown brands in the country including Huawei, which has surpassed Apple to become the world’s biggest seller of smartphones.

The potential legal action against Apple comes at a time when a trade war between the U.S. and China has heated up significantly, drawing in tech majors from both countries.

If a preliminary injunction is filed, a local court could decide to ban Apple from selling products featuring Siri—nearly all its major products—in China for the duration of the trial.

Unlike other American tech giants—like Google, Facebook and Amazon—Apple has a major presence in China.

This has been primarily due to the Cupertino-based company’s willingness to comply with China’s restrictive internet laws, something that has led to criticism of the company in the U.S. Last month, Attorney General William Barr alleged, without citing evidence, that Apple was selling phones in China with security backdoors that could be accessed by local authorities.