Chinese tech firm files US$1.4b lawsuit against Apple over Siri patent

Tian Shengjie
Jiading-based company files lawsuit demanding Apple stop using Siri software, which it claims infringes its patent, and calls for 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in compensation.
Tian Shengjie

Xiao-I Robot has filed a lawsuit at Shanghai High People’s Court on Monday, demanding that Apple stop using Siri, which it claims infringes its patent, and 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in compensation.

The Jiading-based company said it received a national invention patent in 2009 for a system it said can let robots communicate with people and complete tasks after hearing commands, such as playing games or finding information, it said.

In 2011, Apple used Siri (Speech Interpretation & Recognition Interface) in its iPhone 4s for the first time and many of its products, such as the iTouch 4 and iPad 3, have the facility. Siri is also for man-machine interaction with similar functions including chatting and searching for information.

In 2012, Xiao-I Robot took Apple to Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court over right infringement. However, Apple questioned the validity of Xiao-I Robot’s patent.

Xiao-I Robot’s case was supported by the patent reexamination board and Shanghai and Beijing intermediate courts. However, Beijing’s high court considered the patent invalid.

After an eight-year battle, the Supreme People's Court rejected Apple’s petition and confirmed Xiao-I Robot’s patent as valid in July this year.

Yuan Hui, the company’s founder and CEO, said Apple should pay for profits made from the products using Xiao-I Robot's patent.

The company’s lawyer said on Monday that the amount of compensation asked for may be adjusted during further investigation.

Xiao-I Robot, established in 2001, focuses on the research and development of intelligent robots. In 2004, it used its chat system on social media platforms MSN and QQ and it is also now used by domestic banks, Huawei and China Mobile. In 2018, the research and advisory company Gartner considered the company one of the representative vendors in conversational AI (artificial intelligence) in China.

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