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A Chinese firm wants all of Apple's Siri-enabled devices banned in China

Ios 14 Siri Hero
Ios 14 Siri Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Chinese firm Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co wants Apple's Siri banned.
  • The company owns Artificial Intelligence patents in the country.
  • It wants every Apple device with Siri inside to be kicked out of China.

A Chinese company wants any Apple device with Siri built in to be banned from the country, according to a Wall Street Journal. It's also suing Apple for a massive $1.43 billion, an even more massive 10 billion yuan.

Importantly, pretty much everything Apple sells comes with Siri incorporated which means Apple could be in for some tough times. If it was to lose out here, Apple would effectively be pushed out of China.

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co. said Monday that it is suing Apple for an estimated 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in damages in a Shanghai court, alleging the iPhone and iPad maker's products violated a patent the Chinese artificial-intelligence company owns for a virtual assistant whose technical architecture is similar to Siri's.As part of the suit, Shanghai Zhizhen, also known as Xiao-i, asked Apple to stop sales, production and the use of products flouting the patent—a category that includes virtually all the U.S. company's devices.

This doesn't come out of the blue, however. China's Supreme Court ruled that Shanghai Zhizhen owns a virtual assistant patent in China following an eight-year battle. That then opened things up for the new lawsuit – Apple should probably have seen this one coming.

Where this story will go next is unclear. Local Chinese law often favors local companies so where will that leave Apple? One Chinese judge says that it's unlikely a full Siri ban will happen, but it's difficult to predict what will happen in these situations.

Who doesn't love a good patent battle?

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.