On August 3, the Chinese technology company Shanghai Xiaoi Robot Technology officially filed a lawsuit with the Shanghai Higher People's Court, demanding Apple to stop Siri patent infringement.
Xiaoi demanded Apple to stop making, using, promising to sell, selling and importing products that infringe ZL200410053749.9 patent and claimed RMB 10 billion.
The case was first filed eight years ago and then was suspended. Xiaoi Robot's reopening of the case stems from a recent decision by China's Supreme People's Court on the validity of its patents.
On June 28, the Supreme Court made the latest change in its ruling on the validity of Xiaoi Robot's patent for a "chatbot system".
The ruling reversed the previous Beijing High Court's second-instance ruling and upheld the Beijing First Intermediate Court's first-instance ruling that Xiaoi Robot's patent was valid.
According to the Supreme Court, Xiaoi Robot is the owner of the Chinese invention patent ZL200410053749.9 (a chatbot system), which was applied for in 2004 and granted in 2009.
The patent is one of the basic patents of China's human-computer interactive intelligent robots, with fully independent intellectual property rights, and is capable of ordering the robot to complete tasks in formatted language, as well as completing chat conversations in natural language.
Xiaoi Robot, for its part, said that Apple first introduced Siri, an intelligent personal assistant service, on the iPhone 4S phone it released in 2011.
After that, Apple has carried Siri in its full line of products such as iPhone, iPad, iTouch, MacBook, HomePod, etc., and Siri has become the main entrance of human-computer interaction of Apple products.
After judicial evaluation, Siri's technical solution fell within the scope of protection of No. ZL200410053749.9 patent claim by Xiaoi Robot, the company said.
According to Xiaoi Robot, the chatbot system protected by the patent has two functions: "users can chat with the robot, but the conversation they get is very anthropomorphic"; and users can ask the robot to find information, play games, etc.'."
"The Supreme Court's decision shows that Xiaoi Robot's patent is very clear in terms of technology," Yuan Yang, a lawyer representing Xiaoi Robot and a senior partner at Shanghai Dabang Law Firm, told 21jingji.
Yuan Yang said that in the upcoming litigation, Xiaoi Robot will argue Apple's Siri infringement on three fronts. The first is the description of Siri's functions in Apple's official introduction; the second is the product testing of Siri's use and functions; and the third is the comparison of Siri's patents filed overseas.
However, Yuan Yang also pointed out that the situation faced in the actual litigation may be more complicated and there are many challenges. "For example, Apple had previously defended that Siri did not follow the technical path of the patent registration exactly in actual operation and so on."
Xiaoi Robot filed a lawsuit eight years ago against Siri, a chatbot for Apple's iPhone, in the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court.
But the infringement lawsuit was suspended for years because of the "validity of the patent" and was never decided.
The change in China's Supreme Court ruling means that Xiaoi Robot is in a more favorable position for subsequent civil infringement lawsuits.
Yuan Hui, founder, chairman, and CEO of Xiaoi Robot, said, "As a technology professional, I have great respect for Apple and the value and experience their products and services bring to the world. However, consumers have paid for every Apple product they have purchased. In turn, Apple has to respect innovation and pay us a reasonable fee for using our patents."
Xiaoi Robot entered the field of artificial intelligence and chatbots in 2004 with the launch of instant messaging software MSN and Xiaoi Robot on QQ.
Since 2011, Xiaoi Robot has moved from a consumer-only sector to targeting consumers as well as businesses.
Currently, Xiaoi Robot's main business is to provide customers with dozens of industries such as contact centers, finance, government, and healthcare through intelligent interaction platform, intelligent voice platform, knowledge fusion platform, AI service foundation platform, and other core intelligent products.
In 2010, Apple acquired Siri.Inc, which was founded in 2007, for $200 million.
On December 6, 2011, Apple launched Siri for the first time on its iPhone 4S mobile phone, and then in the iPhone5, iPad3, iPad4, iPad mini, iTouch4, and other products have been equipped with Siri.