Cupertino, California-based technology company Apple Inc. is being sued by an artificial intelligence company from China for more than $1.4 billion in alleged patent-infringement damages.
China's Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology said Monday it was suing Apple for the damages. It accused the U.S. company of violating its technology patents. Shanghai Zhizhen alleges Apple violated its voice-recognition technology patent with the continued use of its Siri assistant on its iOS and MacOS devices.
Shanghai Zhizhen is demanding Apple be barred from "manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling and importing" in China any type of product that infringes its patents. If the action is successful Apple could lose billions of dollars in sales in its second-largest market. Apple integrates its Siri virtual assistant in almost all of its products - including laptops, desktops, smartwatches and smart speakers.
The patent involved, which is for a type of voice-recognition technology, was originally filed by Shanghai Zhizhen in 2004. The local patent was eventually awarded to the company in 2009. Shanghai Zhizhen claims Apple used this technology to build its virtual assistant's voice-recognition system - an allegation Apple has repeatedly denied. The China company first filed a lawsuit against Apple for patent infringement in 2012.
Apple said in a statement it was disappointed Shanghai Zhizhen had chosen to file another lawsuit. The company said it had already consulted independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People's Court which had concluded that its devices didn't infringe any of Shanghai Zhizhen's patents. Apple said it looked forward to presenting all of its findings in court and putting an end to the claims.
Nevertheless, if Apple does win, the litigation could still be a problem for its business in China. Shanghai Zhizhen could potentially file preliminary injunctions preventing Apple from selling its products in the country for the duration of the trial, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
A trade war between China and the U.S. has spilled over into the technology sector and has been intensified by a U.S. ban on products and services provided by companies from China such as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.