It's been a litigious week in the technology world, with Nokia telling Google and Asus to pay up for patents, Toshiba receiving an $87 million fine for price-fixing LCD panels and Yahoo and Facebook dropping patent litigation in favor of a new alliance. Now Apple is joining the roster of companies hit with patent suits following a lawsuit from a Chinese company claiming the maker of the iPhone and iPad tablet infringes on patents connected to Apple's digital concierge, Siri.
According to a report in China Daily, the Shanghai-based company, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology, is suing Apple and asserting the company infringes on a voice technology patent owned by Zhizhen. The company sent Apple a legal notice in May but Mac lawyers did not respond, according to the report. Now, a Shanghai court will reportedly hear the case. "We have 100 million users in China, and many companies are using our product," chairman Yuan Hui told China Daily in an interview on Friday.
Zhizhen's patented technology powers Xiao i Robot software, which allows users to ask questions and can respond to voice commands. Siri, which can also respond to spoken commands, was originally introduced as an iOS application available in the App Store by Siri, Inc., which was acquired by Apple in 2010. "Our only demand is that Apple stop infringing on our patent and cover the court costs," Yuan told China Daily.
Apple has been shelling out quite a bit of cash lately to Chinese firms. On July 2, the Associated Press reported Apple had agreed to pay Shenzhen Proview Technology $60 million to use the iPad name in China. The matter appears to settle an ongoing lawsuit between the two companies about which one really owns the name iPad. Apple has maintained that it purchased the global rights to the iPad name in 2009, but in December, a Chinese court ruled that it hadn't purchased the name for use in China.
In June, a 20-month-old legal fight between Apple and Motorola over alleged patent-infringement claims ended when a trial judge dismissed the case after lashing some of Apple's key legal arguments in his 38-page court decision. The two companies have been fighting in court over the design of their competing mobile devices. Instead of seeking damages for the alleged infringements, Apple sought an injunction to protect it in the future from what the company claimed was irreparable damage from continued infringements of its patents by Motorola, the judge wrote.