Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent woes grew on Wednesday, after a Beijing court upheld the validity of a speech-recognition patent held by Zhizhen Network Technology Co. Ltd., allowing a separate patent infringment case by Zhizhen against the Cupertino, California, tech titan to continue.
Apple took its case to court in February against the Shanghai-based company and China’s State Intellectual Property Office in an effort to invalidate the speech-recognition patent.
The Beijing First Intermediate People’s court ruled Tuesday in favor of Zhizhen’s claim to the patent.
"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri (speech-recognition technology) and we do not believe we are using this patent," a Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman told Reuters.
Apple said it would appeal the decision, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Prior to the February suit, Zhizhen filed a case against Apple in 2012, alleging that the Siri voice-recognition technology infringed on one of Zhizhen’s patents, according to the Register.
According to records from China’s State Intellectual Property Office, Zhizhen filed the application for its patent in 2004, titled “Chat Robot System,” which covered its technology called Xiao i Robot. In 2006, that patent was approved and published by the intellectual property bureau.
Xiao i Robot originally was a chat bot for MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and other services in 2003. In recent years, it has expanded to iOS and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices.
The intellectual property office's patent approval came a year before Siri was developed by startup company, Siri Inc.
Siri Inc. was acquired by Apple in 2010 and the speech-recognition technology made its first appearance as the spotlight feature of iOS with the introduction of the iPhone 4S in 2011.