Dark clouds are hanging over Apple’s business in China. Xiaomi Robot filed a lawsuit against the IT giant eight years ago for infringement of its patent rights for the voice assistant Siri. The company is owned by Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co. which recently filed a lawsuit with the Supreme People’s Court of China demanding Apple pay more than $1.5 billion for patent infringement.
Siri software was created in 2007 and was originally used in text chats. In 2010, Siri was acquired by Apple for $200 million and has since become a personal assistant through a partnership with Nuance.
Over the years, starting in 2011, Apple has continuously added Siri to its products and made it one of the main features of the iPhone. But in 2004, Shanghai Zhizhen applied for Chinese patent ZL200410053749.9 for Little i Robot, which was approved in 2009. According to the plaintiff, Apple is infringing on this patent.
Shanghai Zhizhen asks the PRC Supreme People’s Court to ban the production, import and sale of iPhone smartphones that violate patent ZL200410053749.9. The Supreme People’s Court upheld the request for an injunction while the hearings are ongoing.
If Shanghai Zhizhen ultimately wins the case, then Apple could face the prospect of a complete ban on sales of its flagship iPhone product in China, which is a hugely important market for the Cupertino-based company.