Apple wins China patent appeal over iPhone 'Siri' voice recognition software
Apple has won an appeal on the mainland over the patent rights to voice recognition software such as the iPhone's "Siri", with a court overruling an earlier decision that had gone against the US technology giant.
The legal battle began in 2012 when Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology pursued Apple for allegedly infringing its Chinese patent with Siri, its "intelligent personal assistant".
Siri responds to a user's commands through voice recognition software and made its formal debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, while Zhizhen claims that its earlier "Xiao i Robot" product works in a similar way.
Apple asked a mainland intellectual property body to declare Zhizhen's original patent ineffective, but the request was rejected.
The US company then took legal action against both the agency and Zhizhen, but lost.
However, the Beijing Higher People's Court has upheld Apple's appeal, ordering the Chinese agency to reverse its decision.
"The move means Apple's Siri voice recognition system did not infringe the protected rights of other patents and Apple fans can continue enjoying the conveniences brought by the technology," the court said in a statement on Tuesday.
Zhizhen filed a lawsuit against Apple for intellectual property rights infringement in June, 2012 at a court in Shanghai, where the Chinese company is based.
A verdict was still pending after hearings opened in 2013, Xinhua said yesterday.
The announcement came days before the launch of the long-awaited Apple Watch in select parts of Asia, including China, which is expected to be a key market.
Apple in 2012 paid US$60 million to settle an intellectual property rights dispute with Shenzhen Proview Technology over the iPad trademark.