State-owned film studio sues Apple for 'selling unauthorised movies'

State-owned firm claims the US giant sold movies without authorisation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 9:01am

A state-owned Shanghai animation film studio has sued Apple in a Beijing court, seeking compensation of 3.3 million yuan (HK$4.08 million), alleging the US company sold its movies without approval.

The litigation - coupled with another case to be heard by a Shanghai court, involving a voice-recognition software patent - suggests Apple is struggling to preserve its image in the mammoth mainland market.

Shanghai Animation Film Studio, which has produced blockbuster animated movies such as The Monkey King, accuses Apple Inc and Apple Electronics Products Commerce (Beijing), one of its Chinese subsidiaries, of infringing on intellectual property rights while providing unauthorised download services in its App Store.

A senior official with the Shanghai company confirmed that it had filed the litigation with the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court, which accepted the case.

Apple said it would not comment or a make response to an ongoing litigation.

We want to keep tight-lipped on this case because, as we see it, it's just a litigation in which we want to get compensation

"We want to keep tight-lipped on this case because, as we see it, it's just a litigation in which we want to get compensation [for our product]," said an official from the Shanghai studio. "It's a sensitive period now since Apple is a big multinational company and it is surrounded by controversies on its practices in China."

The animation film studio said Apple and its subsidiary sold 110 movies it made, including Calabash Brothers and Black Cat Detective.

The case followed a verdict by Beijing No.2 People's Immediate Court in September, which ordered Apple to pay China Encyclopedia Publishing 520,000 yuan in compensation for providing download services without approvals.

On Wednesday, Apple denied at a court hearing in Shanghai that its Siri voice-activated personal assistant on its iPhones infringed the patent of Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology.

"The cases are not good signs," said Dong Jun, an iPhone owner. "They convinced me of quitting Apple products later now that my phone has quality problems."

Zhizhen said the US technology giant's use of Siri infringed on its patent for "Xiao iRobot."

The Shanghai firm claimed it obtained a patent licence from the State Intellectual Property Office for the software in 2009.