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Apple gets sued for Siri in China

It’s a routine to see Apple suing some or the other company on the basis of various patents which Apple has in their name, but the story is something else in mainland China. Apple is being sued by various companies on the basis of patents they have to their name. These obstacles are not allowing Apple to aggressively expand its business in China, the fastest growing consumer electronics market.

In November last year, a Chinese court had ruled in Proview’s favor stating that Proview’s Shenzen division was the actual owner of the trademark ‘iPad’. After the legal battle, Apple paid $60 million to Proview as compensation for the infringement, and the number mysteriously coincides with the amount that Proview owed to various creditors, paying which would save the company from going bankrupt.

After Apple’s settlement with Proview, Shanghai-based voice activation developer Zhizhen Network Technology has decided to sue Apple for infringing a patent related to something called Ziaoi Bot, which happens to be a IM chat bot. The company had filed for the patent back in 2004, but it was awarded in 2006. Apple failed to respond to any communications by Zhizhen that meant business, and hence the company filed a case against Apple in Shanghai court on June 21.

Zhizhen hasn’t clearly spoken about how much compensation it was seeking from Apple, but a Zhizhen representative said that if the court agrees the claims and if the case is in its favor, the compensation may surpass the compensation amount which Apple paid to Proview for the trademark. Zhizhen hasn’t filed the lawsuite on Siri’s patent, but Apple’s explanation of Siri’s functioning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hZyD8-T-C0I#!
In the above video, you can see the latest version of Ziaoi Bot, and it’s evident how heavily the user interface is borrowed from Apple’s Siri. Looks like Apple can after all file a case again Zhizhen for copying Siri’s user interface elements. In a different story, a company called Jiangsu Xuebao is seeking $80,645 in damages for Apple’s usage of the term “Snow Leopard” in MacOS marketing.