If anything, you won’t expect a patent battle to be the thing that threatens the Apple iPhone 13 from launching in China. Mere days before Apple’s scheduled to reveal its latest hardware, an injunction’s been filed that may bar the production, sale and export of iPhones that feature the company’s virtual assistant Siri.
The injunction was filed by Chinese AI company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology, also known as Xiao-i Robot at the Shanghai Higher People’s Court. But this case stems from a long-standing battle with Apple, initiated in 2012.
Here’s the tea, Apple
Xiao-i Robot develops AI-based chat systems and filed a patent for the tech called a ‘chat robot system’ back in 2004. This tech was said to have complete conversations in natural language — so… it’s similar to Siri, which made its debut in the iPhone 4s in 2011. That’s 2 years after Xiao-i Robot’s patent was granted in 2009.
In 2020 China’s Supreme Court ruled that Xiao-i Robot’s patent is valid. Wonder what it thought of the iPhone 12 range launching end of 2020?
You probably understand why Xiao-iRobot’s pissed — considering Siri is very close to the tech it holds a patent for in the country. Apple disagrees, naturally, and says Siri’s features aren’t included in the patent.
“Siri does not contain features included in their patent, which relates to games and instant messaging … Independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People’s Court have also concluded that Apple does not infringe Xiao-i Robot’s technology,” it said in a statement according to the South China Morning Post.
Anyway, the current injunction may prohibit the Silicon Valley company from manufacturing its devices in China (which it currently is) and selling them there. “Apple should immediately stop the infringement, take down and stop selling the related products,” says Xiao-i Robot CEO Yuan Hui.