Apple: Too Hot for Chinese Menu!
A Beijing court’s judgment against Apple Inc. with respect to the validity of a patent held by Zhizhen Internet Technology, a Chinese company, is making headlines. Apple challenged Zhizhen’s contention alleging that the patent rights of Zhizhen Internet Technology to a speech recognition technology were invalid and thus dragged the Shanghai based company to Beijing’s Number One Intermediate People’s Court to procure a verdict in its favour on the matter. Since the Lower court found no merit in the contentions made by Apple Inc., the company is now planning to bring the case to Beijing Higher People’s Court, with the hope to reverse the original verdict after its initial efforts have been thwarted.
On more than one occasions, Apple has been down and out in China over patent-infringement case(s). In 2013, Zhizhen sued Apple laying claim that the company’s Siri, which is used on iPhones, violates intellectual property rights in its speech-recognition technology. Zhizhen also accused Apple the same year for the violation of its intellectual property rights after Apple declared that Mandarin and Cantonese were being appended to the list of Siri’s supported languages. Zhizhen maintained that it had filed a Patent application to the rudimentary technology in 2004 and was granted a patent after two years. Apple also sought to impede the case by calling for China’s State Intellectual Property Office to invalidate the patent, but was shown a red signal.
Siri is a voice recognition software that permits users to inquire a virtual personal assistant with doubts or questions after which the virtual personal assistant responds through its natural language user interface accordingly. For example, it allows users to find train and flight times, shopping malls, restaurants, stock prices etc. Zhizhen volunteers as an app over Xiao i Robot in Apple’s iOS .The Chinese company had issues with the method in which a person’s speech is distinguished, recognized and examined through Siri.
The bombardment of trademark infringement claims against Apple in China is setting out to build up the steam. Some time ago, a chemical company registered a complaint against Apple for the Snow Leopard trademark, and now Zhizhen has filed this complaint about the much talked about “Siri” trademark. The dust around Siri was far from being settled, when Apple has faced a fresh slaughter recently, with the Chinese state broadcaster charging Apple’s “Frequent Locations” function of flummoxing Chinese security by alleging it to be a potential ‘security risk’ to the country. Clearly it is tough times ahead for Apple Inc. in its second largest market, China.
This is not the first time that Apple has had problems in taming the Dragon. Taiwanese company Proview Electronics sued Apple in 2006, claiming the company infringed its trademark for the word ‘iPad’. Apple had to settle the Trademark Dispute with Proview for a hovering $60 Million. After the multimillion-dollar settlement with Proview Technology, Chinese company Jiangsu Xeubao also filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming its OS ‘Snow Leopard’ contravene Jiangsu Xeebao’s trademark of its name. The company’s logo Xuebao (雪豹) is the Chinese tantamount of ‘Snow Leopard’.
What is my conclusion? A little bit of greed is health. Everyone wants a slice of Apple, but China wants the whole damn pie! It seems Chinese firms will continue excruciating Apple until they own the company; there is simply no denial to that. On a serious note, if such a scenario persists, it won’t be far-fetched to argue that Apple might bid farewell the nation. While I continue my quest for something more juicy on this topic, you folks can stay tuned for more!