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Now Apple faces Siri court room showdown

Patent dispute could cost more than Proview pay-out

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Apple’s protracted iPad trademark battle with Proview appears to have opened the floodgates to further legal attacks in China, with Siri now being targeted in a law suit which could cost Cupertino in excess of $60 million to resolve.

A Shanghai-based developer of voice assistant technology has filed against Apple and its local subsidiary Apple Computer Trading alleging Siri infringes one of its patents.

Zhizhen Network Technology had a patent for "a type of instant messaging chat bot system" called Xiaoi Bot approved in China in early 2006, according to China Business News (via Marbridge Daily).

The Shanghai tech developer apparently sent Apple a notice in May trying to resolve the dispute but received no response from the fruity toy maker. A Shanghai court is now preparing to hear the case.

A Zhizhen representative told China Business News that if the court finds in its favour or if Apple agrees to a settlement, it will probably exceed the $60m it ended up paying failed monitor biz Proview in its long-running trademark battle.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cupertino is also under legal fire from another Chinese firm - Jiangsu Snow Leopard Household Chemical – over trademark rights to use the Snow Leopard name.

The firm wants 500,000 yuan (£50,000) in damages and a public apology from Apple, claiming the tech giant used the name to market and sell its now outdated OS despite Jiangsu having already registered 42 trademarks relating to its Chinese translation, xuebao.

However, the Siri case may prove a little more urgent for Apple, given that it recently announced Mandarin and Cantonese support for the voice assistant at this year's WWDC.

Although reception to the tool has so far been muted, any legal complications delaying its roll-out would be most unwelcome as Cupertino looks to redouble its efforts on the huge and lucrative Chinese market. ®

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