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Apple suing government bureau and Shanghai firm over Siri voice assistant rights

Apple Inc is suing a government bureau handling intellectual property rights and a Shanghai-based firm over voice-recognition assistant technologies used in Siri on iPhone and iPad, according to testimony heard by a Beijing court today.

Apple is asking the State Intellectual Property Office to confirm Siri’s patent and reject the petition of Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology, which developed a Siri-like product, Xiao-I Robot.

Zhizhi previously applied for patents for Xiao-I Robot and sued Apple for patent violation.

The case was heard by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court today.

Apple confirmed the case but declined to comment on the issue. Zhizhen was not available for comments.

Zhizhen sued Apple over related patents in July in Shanghai. But the local court hearing the case hasn't issued a verdict.

Apple then asked the intellectual property office, in charge of patent rights protection in China, to declare Zhizhen's voice recognition patent invalid. But the request was declined. Therefore Apple issued an appeal to the Beijing court.

Shanghai's Zhizhen developed Xiao-I Robot with online personal assistant functions from weather forecasts and calenders to online shopping functions, similar to Siri. Xiao-I Robot was used in Microsoft Corp's instant message tool MSN.

Last year, Zhizhen accused the technology giant of copying its Xiao-I Robot software, which was patented in 2004 in China. Siri, described by Apple as an "intelligent personal assistant," made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, able to respond to a user's commands through voice recognition software.



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