Chinese AI firm ZhiZhen Network Technology is no stranger to Apple
. Back in 2013, the company sued Apple over digital assistant Siri when the feature was introduced in China. ZhiZhen received a patent in China back in 2006 for its Xiao i Robot software which answers questions and holds conversations with users like Siri does.
ZhiZhen wanted the court to order to issue a preliminary injunction and order Apple to pay monetary damages after claiming that Apple infringed on its patents. And today’s story reminds us of the late Hall of Famer Yogi Berra who reportedly once said, “it’s like deja vu all over again.” According to the South China Morning Post
), ZhiZhen is once again siccing its attorneys on Apple for allegedly infringing on the patents it received for the Xiao i Robot.
The latest suit was filed on September 3rd and once again the plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction against Apple that would stop the latter from the manufacture, sale, and export of all infringing products including the soon-to-be unveiled iPhone 13 series. ZhiZhen CEO Yuan Hui said, “Apple should immediately stop the infringement, take down and stop selling the related products.” Besides seeking the injunction, the company is asking for 10 billion yuan (equivalent to approximately $1.5 billion) in damages.
Siri debuted on 2011’s iPhone 4s
Apple hasn’t issued a new statement about the matter and instead, it repeated to the South China Morning Post a comment it made back in 2020. “Siri does not contain features included in their patent, which relates to games and instant messaging,” Apple said last year. “Independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People’s Court have also concluded that Apple does not infringe Xiao-i Robot’s technology.”
Unlike some of the companies that sue Apple for patent infringement, ZhiZhen has a real business that doesn’t involve managing its patents. The firm claims that its software has more than 100 million users in China including major Chinese companies such as China Mobile, China Telecom, and several major banks.
After ZhiZhen sued Apple in 2013, Apple tried to have the patent invalidated but was unable to do so. Apple then counter-sued the company and China, but no ruling has ever been issued. It should be pointed out that Siri’s main technologies were created in 2003 and 2005 before the patent was issued.