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Apple suffered a legal setback in China, as a court upheld a patent at the heart of a dispute over Siri.

Zhizhen Network Technology, based in Shanghai, is seeking an injunction on all Apple products that include Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. Zhizhen claims Siri violates a patent it received in 2006 that serves as the basis for the company’s Xiao i Robot virtual assistant.

When Apple announced plans to expand Siri to Mandarin and Cantonese, Zhizhen filed a lawsuit claiming Apple was infringing its intellectual property. Apple took its case to China’s State Intellectual Property Office to have the patent invalidated, but was denied. Apple then sued Zhizhen and the patent authority, but lost Tuesday when the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court ruled in favor of Zhizhen.

None of this is likely to have an immediate effect on Apple’s business in China, as the ruling merely upholds the patent Zhizhen is basing its case on. However, Apple maintains that Siri uses entirely different technology than Xiao i Robot.

“Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen’s patent before we introduced Siri, and we do not believe we are using this patent. While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen,” an Apple spokesperson told the BBC.

Apple has already begun the process of filing an appeal with the Beijing Higher People’s Court. In the meantime, while Zhizhen’s initial suit is still unresolved, if Apple’s statement is any indication, a financial resolution may ultimately end the legal battle.





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