Apple has lost the first stage of a patent infringement battle in China over its voice-controlled assistant Siri – after a Beijing court ruled a speech-recognition patent held by the Chinese firm that launched the lawsuit is valid.
The iPhone maker was arguing with both Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology and the State Intellectual Property Office over the validity of a speech-recognition technology patent that Zhizhen is asserting against Apple's Siri voice assistant.
But the court said in a statement (translated by Google) that it had decided that the patent is valid. This means Apple will now have to thwart Zhizhen's attempts to prove Siri ripped off the protected technology.
Zhizhen took Apple to court in the country back in 2012, saying that Siri had infringed on its speech patent. The fruity firm asked the Patent Re-examination Board to take another look at the intellectual property, and after the board said the patent was solid, Apple challenged the decision in court.
Apple was arguing that the patent was invalid for a number of reasons, including the novelty of the claim and lack of necessary technical features. But the Beijing Intermediate Court upheld the board’s decision on validity. The firm said in court that it intends to appeal the decision.
An Apple spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company doesn’t believe that Siri infringes on the patent.
“Apple created Siri to provide customers with their own personal assistant by using their voice. Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," they said.
"While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen.” ®