Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - Page 15 News List

China court hears claim Apple’s Siri is a copycat

PERSONAL ASSISTANT:Zhizhen Network is demanding that Apple stop making and selling products in China that carry Siri. Apple says it uses a different technology

Bloomberg and AFP, SHANGHAI

A case against US technology giant Apple Inc brought by a Chinese company for alleged patent infringement in its digital personal assistant Siri has begun in a Shanghai court, state media said yesterday.

Lawyers representing Apple and Zhizhen Network Technology Co (智臻網路) on Tuesday argued over the technical specifications of Siri and the Chinese company’s Xiao i Robot product, reports said.

Trademark and patent infringement are rife in China, but the legal challenge to Apple comes after it paid Chinese computer maker Shenzhen Proview Technology (深圳唯冠) US$60 million last year to settle a long-running dispute over the iPad name, whose ownership was claimed by both companies.


Zhizhen is demanding that Apple stop making and selling products in China which carry Siri, a “personal assistant” which responds to a user’s commands through voice recognition software.

The company claims it filed a patent for the Xiao i Robot software in 2004, which was approved two years later.

Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.

In Tuesday’s court session, Apple’s lawyers argued that the two function in a similar way, but use different technology.

“One can achieve the same results through various means,” a lawyer for Apple was quoted by the Global Times newspaper as saying.

“Apple has its own technology for Siri, which is totally different from the plaintiff’s,” said the lawyer, whose name was not given.

Yuan Yang (袁洋), a lawyer representing Zhizhen, said the company’s main goal at this stage is to let the court validate its claim regarding the infringement.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of mediation or compensation, but they are to be considered in the future,” Yuan said.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court made no ruling on Tuesday.

In related news, Apple is hiring Paul Deneve, the former chief executive of luxury fashion house Yves St Laurent Group, to work on special projects for chief executive Tim Cook.

Deneve returns to the iPhone maker after working for Apple in Europe during the 1990s. He was also CEO of Lanvin and Nina Ricci prior to joining Yves St Laurent.

While Apple has traditionally promoted from within, the move shows that Cook is looking outside the company to fill some senior roles.


Apple is also hiring Hulu LLC executive Pete Distad to help with negotiations to acquire content for Apple TV, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Paul Deneve to Apple,” the company said in a statement. “He’ll be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.”

Deneve will not be filling Apple’s vacant job running its retail store operation. The position remains open since the departure last year of John Browett, who was on the job less than a year after replacing the company’s first retail chief, Ron Johnson.

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