iPhone 13 launch threatened by Chinese company claiming Siri violates its patent

Chinese AI company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology, also known as Xiao-i Robot, has asked a court to block the manufacturing and sale of Apple’s iPhone in China, days before Apple’s expected unveiling of the iPhone 13.

The South China Morning Post reports the firm last Friday applied to the Shanghai Higher People’s Court for a preliminary injunction that bans the production, sale and export of iPhones that come with Apple’s Siri assistant.

The company has been embroiled in a fight with Apple over the voice-based virtual assistant since 2012.

In a statement posted on its official WeChat account on Tuesday, Xiao-i Robot CEO Yuan Hui accused Apple of not respecting its intellectual property.

“Apple should immediately stop the infringement, take down and stop selling the related products,” Yuan stated.

Xiao-i Robot first applied for a patent for what it described as a “chat robot system” that can complete conversations in natural language in 2004.

The patent was granted in 2009, while Apple first integrated Siri with the iPhone 4s in 2011.

Apple has hit back at the suit, claiming that Siri does not contain features included in the patent, which it said related 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.

Following several court battles with Apple, China’s Supreme Court in June 2020 ruled that Xiao i-Robot’s patent was valid.

The company has sued Apple for 10 billion Chinese yuan (R21.98 billion) in damages.

Should the court grant the injunction, it could spell disaster for Apple’s launch of the iPhone 13, as its biggest iPhone factory is located in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou.

This is not the first time the world’s most valuable tech firm has been accused of patent violations.

As recently as August 2020, Apple was ordered to pay more than $500 million in damages and interest for infringing 4G patents held by UK-based intellectual property company PanOptis.

It is also set to face a patent infringement lawsuit over the heart rate technology used in the Apple Watch.

However, the company has also been on the receiving end of numerous dubious claims by so-called “patent trolls” who try to shake the company down by claiming it had stolen technology they originally developed.

Now read: Apple product event announced — iPhone 13 reveal expected

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iPhone 13 launch threatened by Chinese company claiming Siri violates its patent