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Apple loses voice recognition patent suit in China, faces legal challenges over Siri

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
A Beijing court has affirmed the validity of a voice recognition patent -- held by China's Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co. -- that Apple is accused of infringing with Siri, clearing the way for the resolution of a long-pending intellectual property case that could see the personal digital assistant muted in China.

The
The "Little I Robot" application | Source: YouTube


Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled on Tuesday that China's Patent Review Committee made the correct choice when upholding a patent covering Zhizhen's "Little I Robot" application, a "chat robot system" similar to Siri. Apple disagrees and will appeal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," an Apple spokeswoman told the publication. "While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen."

Zhizhen first filed suit against Apple in a Shanghai court in 2012, and the iPhone maker responded by seeking a review of the patent. That review went against Apple, at which time the company sued both the Patent Review Committee and Zhizhen in Beijing.



Both parties appear to be open to settling the matter in order to avoid the same kind of drawn-out litigation Apple was forced into over its iPad trademark in China. Apple eventually paid some $60 million to Shenzhen Proview Technology in order to settle that case.

"The most important thing is to ensure [Zhizhen's] rights," Zhizhen lawyer Yuan Yang said. "The company doesn't have a specific economic request. In the end, it might be that the two sides could cooperate to deal with the problem and reach a win-win result."
post #2 of 35

Patents can cut both ways it would seem. It is interesting to see how patents can actually be impediments to technology advancements, especially from the standpoint of patent trolling in which vultures with no product sit and wait to pounce on companies who actually make things.

 

In this case it looks like Apple knows it is on the losing end of the stick and is willing to settle. That being said, however, I cannot bring myself to trust any legal ruling out of a totalitarian country like China. 

post #3 of 35
I'm a bit surprised at this. According to the wording of Apple's statement tho they seem to acknowledge Zhizhen's patent precedes Apple's Siri.

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," an Apple spokeswoman told the publication.
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post #4 of 35

Its a communist country, the court is an arm of the state and will rule whichever way it is told to. It is used as a weapon of business and profit not the rule of law. 

post #5 of 35
It's interesting in the video how much Apple's siri button resembles the prior art.
post #6 of 35
isn't it ironic?

I mean CHINA...
post #7 of 35
Meanwhile, Xiaomi and other clowns in China are ripping off Apple unimaginably! Apple should switch Siri engines by iOS 8.1 and tell this little troll to piss off. They already have everything in place with all the voice recognition hires.
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Bonner View Post

It's interesting in the video how much Apple's siri button resembles the prior art.


You actually might have it backwards, as they didn't include that microphone icon until 2012, when Apple had it in 2011 and before.  (this coming from the actually WSJ article, not this one on this page)

post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I'm a bit surprised at this. According to the wording of Apple's statement tho they seem to acknowledge Zhizhen's patent precedes Apple's Siri.

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," an Apple spokeswoman told the publication.

That a patent existed first doesn't equal that the tech is being used. Which is why Apple's statement they don't believe they are using this patent.

Frankly to me the solution is simple. Remove Siri in China. Because the Chinese courts have shown that they will always try to squeeze Apple.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #10 of 35

Is there a suit over the Siri-equivalent on Android in China?  

post #11 of 35

Additional perspective on this is that Apple did not invent Siri - they bought it. It originated in 2003, as DARPA contracted SRI International to create a virtual assistant. It is something that Apple had wanted since it's mid-1980s concept of the Knowledge Navigator. Many hands and lawyers have been in Siri's development since 2003. A situation like this is thus rather surprising.

post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Bonner View Post

It's interesting in the video how much Apple's siri button resembles the prior art.

I agree! The button looks just like the Siri button. Hmmmmm.
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

Is there a suit over the Siri-equivalent on Android in China?  

Does Google make Google Now available in China? From what I've found in a quick search they do not.
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post #14 of 35

This article is a bit thin on facts.  Is there a link to see the original patent filing?  Or was it filed in China and they don't have an online patent database?

 

Historically, North American technology companies have had little luck trying to stop software piracy and patent abuse in China.  But when a Chinese company holds a patent, the courts there suddenly find a way to uphold patent law.  Funny how that works.

 

But anyways, if the patent does predate any patents related to Siri (and the technology it's based on), then it should be upheld.  I just don't see any information one way or another showing that.

 
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post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shervin View Post

Meanwhile, Xiaomi and other clowns in China are ripping off Apple unimaginably! Apple should switch Siri engines by iOS 8.1 and tell this little troll to piss off. They already have everything in place with all the voice recognition hires.

If you want to do business in China, you have to abide by their rules. They may be unfair, arbitrary, absurd, laughably ridiculous, but this is the biggest growth market and Apple wants to be there, so... That's just the way it is. Apple just needs to put up with what they very well know is a government-sanctioned shakedown.

post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri and we do not believe we are using this patent," an Apple spokeswoman told the publication. "While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen."

How refreshing.

 

Or you could be Samsung and just say "nuh uh" and do it anyway.

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post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSince86 View Post

Additional perspective on this is that Apple did not invent Siri - they bought it. It originated in 2003, as DARPA contracted SRI International to create a virtual assistant. It is something that Apple had wanted since it's mid-1980s concept of the Knowledge Navigator. Many hands and lawyers have been in Siri's development since 2003. A situation like this is thus rather surprising.

As soon as Apple acquired it, Siri became the focus of many Apple-hater attacks. Nothing polarizes the tech elite like the adjective "Apple's".

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSince86 View Post

Additional perspective on this is that Apple did not invent Siri - they bought it. It originated in 2003, as DARPA contracted SRI International to create a virtual assistant. It is something that Apple had wanted since it's mid-1980s concept of the Knowledge Navigator. Many hands and lawyers have been in Siri's development since 2003. A situation like this is thus rather surprising.

It's probably simply due to when the previous owners created Siri didn't do an ip search in China or if they did they didn't go back to see if anything had come out of the blackout period and thus missed the filling in China or didn't plan to have any presence there.
IP searches in China are an effing nightmare (I know as I've had to do them for work).
Though I'm suprise Apple have got caught out by it but you soon learn don't mess with Chinese on their own patch.
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by singularity View Post

IP searches in China are an effing nightmare (I know as I've had to do them for work).

Is it just a language barrier or is their patent system just hard to search?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #20 of 35

If you have several companies separately working towards the same goal, you are bound to get the same results more or less.

post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

This article is a bit thin on facts.  Is there a link to see the original patent filing?  Or was it filed in China and they don't have an online patent database?

Historically, North American technology companies have had little luck trying to stop software piracy and patent abuse in China.  But when a Chinese company holds a patent, the courts there suddenly find a way to uphold patent law.  Funny how that works.

But anyways, if the patent does predate any patents related to Siri (and the technology it's based on), then it should be upheld.  I just don't see any information one way or another showing that.

This offers a little more detail
http://en.apdnews.com/news/103839.html

The patent was apparently applied for in 2004 and granted in 2006. According to the lawsuit SRI didn't begin Siri development until 2007.
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post #22 of 35
It looks like Apple will have to open up its checkbook on this one. In the US we have the Poweball and MegaMillions. In China it's the SueApple lottery.

It would be nice if the untold billions that companies lose to the Chinese counterfeiting industry would be addressed by the People's Court.

Judge Wapner isn't doing his job if you ask me.
post #23 of 35
The Chinese app's design is mimicking Apple's Siri... why would they do that if they were first and better? Hmmmm.....
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by singularity View Post

IP searches in China are an effing nightmare (I know as I've had to do them for work).

Is it just a language barrier or is their patent system just hard to search?
Both, if you think English legalese can be obscure try it with Chinese when the term you use in English can have multiple words in Cantonese and mandarin. Use the wrong term and you can miss so so much and it can be the one you miss is the one that bites you bad. What you hope is that when competitors file they also file a comprehensive English translation but they don't always and of course facilitation "fees" can rear there ugly head.
post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Does Google make Google Now available in China? From what I've found in a quick search they do not.

Does Google still exist in China? I thought they basically moved all operations to Hong Kong after the Gmail hacking incident.

post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by tookieman2013 View Post

Its a communist country, the court is an arm of the state and will rule whichever way it is told to. It is used as a weapon of business and profit not the rule of law. 

So what's the difference where in America the rich basically tell the court and politicians what to do?
post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by tookieman2013 View Post

Its a communist country, the court is an arm of the state and will rule whichever way it is told to. It is used as a weapon of business and profit not the rule of law. 

So what's the difference where in America the rich basically tell the court and politicians what to do?
In America you have the illusion of freedom. In China you have the freedom from that illusion.
post #28 of 35
Don't worry Apple Zhizhen will let you know how much they want to fill their coffers. Big effing surprise court sided against Cupertino.
post #29 of 35

Apple, Tim, just buy Nuance for God's sake.  

post #30 of 35
@gatorguy This might be just to word things in a chinese-friendly way. Cook understands their need to "save face".

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http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by DewMe View Post

It looks like Apple will have to open up its checkbook on this one. In the US we have the Poweball and MegaMillions. In China it's the SueApple lottery.


Judge Wapner isn't doing his job if you ask me.

It's just a cost to running operations in China. They sell for billions of smartphones in Greater China, and on top of that they get cheap labor for building them. A "small" check to the appropriate officials and "blatantly-infringed" companies doesn't matter on the grand scale of things.

 

Also, if you look at business in Europe, Russia, America... you know, we're talking of places where "interesting" things like Monsanto, l'Oreal, or British Petroleum (oh, them. I don't even KNOW where to start. Rhodesia, maybe.) are allowed to actually operate.

 

Law, judges, courts. They exist, like the police, to settle things between huge companies that can afford armies of lawyers, and to keep peace in the streets, not to actually make life fair.

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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post #32 of 35

It's time to totally separate Apple from Asia.

 

Criminal fascists from China and Korea cannot be trusted.

post #33 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

Does Google still exist in China? I thought they basically moved all operations to Hong Kong after the Gmail hacking incident.

I currently live in China and Google is effectively blocked here across their entire product line. Even google translate now requires use of VPN to work, a recent change. Google pulling out of China was one of the dumbest business moves in history IMHO.
post #34 of 35
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post
Google pulling out of China was one of the dumbest business moves in history IMHO.

 

Not bowing to the whims of a communist dictatorship killing off its entire population was… oh, you said business move. Carry on.

post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

I currently live in China and Google is effectively blocked here across their entire product line. Even google translate now requires use of VPN to work, a recent change. Google pulling out of China was one of the dumbest business moves in history IMHO.

Except for the whole Android thing...

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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