You all must have heard about Siri, a famous personal assistant in Apple’s iOS, who accepts the input & replies in natural language. The battle between Apple and Zhizhen started when Siri made her first debut in 2011. Soon after Siri’s launch, Zhizhen sued Siri for violating its Xiao i Robot patent. First let me introduce you to ‘Xiao i Robot’ By now you must have understood that ‘Xiao I Robot’ is developed by Zhizhen. It is a Voice recognition application that talks to you in natural language. You can see the smart robot installed in Lenovo Smart TV, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger etc. Siri is a smart chatty assistant of iOS, developed by a startup firm Siri, who connects you to the right online service to complete the ordered task. I personally find iPhone’s Siri useful as she books my movie ticket, opens the song I want to listen, set alarms and so on. This battle turned in favor of Apple this April when Beijing Higher People’s Court ordered Review committee to reinvestigate the matter. I’ve collected the series of events that happened in Siri vs. Xiao case. Lets take a look at that:
2004: Zhizhen applied patent protection for ‘Xiao i Robot’
2007: Siri software was originally developed by a startup firm called Siri
2011: Siri made her first debut in China
- Apple found Siri assistant innovative and acquired the firm Siri
- Zhizhen sued Apple in Beijing Intermediate People’s court, for infringing patent on Xiao i Robot. The Court ruled that Apple’s Siri infringed Zhizhen’s patent on voice recognition patent (Xiao i Robot), as the defense presented by Apple was not very strong. They said, “we never heard about Xiao before”
- Apple didn’t agree with the decision and filed an appeal in Patent Review Committee to invalidate Zhizhen’s patent, but Xiao won the battle again.
- Apple felt offended from the verdict and in turn sued both Review Committee and Zhizhen.
On 21st April 2015: Beijing Higher People’s Court released the decision in favor of Apple stating, ‘ Xiao Robot’s patent should be declared invalid and Committee should review the patent’.
Only Zhizhen has decided to chose an avatar for Xiao; Apple didn’t opt avatar for the chatty assistant.
- Xiao and Siri answer questions in a similar way i.e. both replies in natural language.
- Icons of both the assistants are similar:
Apple’s lawyer argued that two function similarly but they use different technologies to complete the tasks. I found that justification correct, as we all know we can design a calculator in C++ and similar functionalities could be achieved if calculator is designed in Java.
Beijing Higher People’s Court has opened the doors for Apple to capture China’s potential market and as far as I know, Apple takes innovation seriously and will not leave any stone unturned to invalidate Xiao’s claims. Apple might have to disable the Assistant Siri in China, if the decision doesn’t work in favor of Apple. We are looking forward eagerly for the Review Committee’s decision on the case.