Just as Apple has finally settled its long-standing legal dispute in China over the iPad moniker for a cool $60 million, paving the way for the official tablet launch in the country, a new patent infringement claim has been filed.

This one targets Apple’s Siri digital personal assistant. As it would seem, Siri might have taken more than a few clues from an interesting voice-activated technology a local firm patented back in 2006, months before the first iPhone had been unveiled.

This development could potentially be devastating now that Apple is gearing up to launch the iPad in the country because the device will come preloaded with Siri as part of a fall iOS 6 software update…

According to M.I.C. Gadget, Shaghai-based Zhi Zhen Network Technology filed a lawsuit asserting that Siri infringes upon its Xiaoi Bot patent which outlines an instant messaging chat bot system of sorts.

Worse, it seems that both Microsoft and Yahoo have licensed this technology for use in their MSN and Yahoo Messenger IM apps distributed in China. It’s also being used by Shanghai Expo’s Dr Haibao and on Lenovo’s Smart TV powered by Android 4.0.

The patent for Xiaoi Bot was filed on August 13, 2004, and approved on February 15, 2006. Apple snapped up Siri, Inc., the company behind an iOS voice assistant app, on April 28, 2010.

Pre-trial negotiations are being mulled as Zhi Zhen reportedly tried to talk Apple into resolving the issue back in May, to no avail.

Here’s China’s Siri-like Xiaoi Bot in action, on an Android device. It definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to Siri, doesn’t it?

As if that weren’t enough, Cupertino is facing another legal proceeding by a Chinese household chemical company which is taking Apple to court over “Snow Leopard” trademark.

Don’t you love it how Apple is now the favorite target of firms from China, where gray imports and counterfeit products are blossoming at a staggering rate?

And did Apple shot itself in the foot by not researching enough before buying Siri?

  • Did Siri have this same interface before Apple purchased the company that came up with Siri? Because if it did, it really is not fully Apple’s fault for dealing with such a lawsuit.

    • No, it had a different UI.

    • Even if it did, Apple could change the interface at any time. So yeah, it still would be their fault.

    • the company ‘Siri’ had an app on the app store called: ‘Siri’ then Apple bought the whole thing and through partnership with wolframalpha and yahoo and a bunch of other sites, then they designed the UI of siri which was first introduced on the iPhone 4S.
      the video above is just to demonstrate the functionality of the mentioned chat-bot. almost all the UI elements in the video are stolen from siri. (the mic, and how it reacts to voice, and the turning glow light, and the conversations windows)
      the main deal here is the functionality, not the UI.

  • Bull sh*t. Absolute bull sh*t. They are in it for the money. They being the shady firms.

    • It’s not BS if Yahoo and Microsoft all paid the license fees because they knew about it beforehand. Like the article says, this product was shown even before the first iPhone was launched. Apple’s at fault here, period.

      Real nice of Christian to call these firms shady too, when clearly they’re established in China already (2006 was when this was made). Yeah, that’s shady…not.

      • Manny Gonzalez

        I just love how Apple here in the US is suing everyone, now that they are in China they are the ones being sued…karma is a bitch!

  • Apple should have stayed out of China!


    Another one of those shady dumb *ss Chineese sh*t, aiming for money, and another one of Christian’s, aiming for attention (just like all the other blogs/news sites out there)…

    It’s unfortunately becoming more and more tiresome to read iDB nowadays 🙁

    • Kok Hean

      It’s a legitimate company.

  • Brian Gillis

    why does the first pic say siri for ipad 2? surely a typo?

  • Well_Said

    Karma is a bitch Apple

    • JaeM1llz

      My thoughts exactly. You spend all your time and money trying to sue others to prevent them from advancing their technology and now look what you get.

    • Chris

      What goes around comes around apple haha

    • Hey idiot. Yah you. Karma has no affect on you in your current lifetime. It really only exists within hinduism explaining reincarnation possibilities. Apple has every right to sue android. China? This is the same country that has human rights violations, sweatshops and a shit ton of knock offs. If you trust the complaint of a chinese company first, you know nothing about china.

  • Spelling error in the last line, shoot not shot 😀

  • hotdog714

    Can all companys please just get along!
    if we want to advance all our technology and start living in the Future then all companies just stop making lawsuits and stop trying to stop technology Progress or else we better stop believing in the future with better technology because all companys will never let no other technology progress because of lawsuits and we will live with obsolete technologies for a long time!

  • MadAndronicus

    “It definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to Siri, doesn’t it?”

    No. Vice versa.

    • How could it be vice versa if this is a patent filed in 2004, 3 years before the iPhone came out and many before Apple purchased Siri inc,.

      • MadAndronicus

        Because the author is saying that the Xiaoi Bot looks like Siri.
        he said…
        “It definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to Siri…”

        and I’m saying vice versa, Siri bears more than a passing resemblance to Xiaoi Bot (Siri looks like the Xiaoi Bot) because Xiaoi Bot came out BEFORE Siri.

        I don’t know how else to explain it…

      • Oh now I get it. Had to re-read your comment.

  • This is a joke now …
    Apple will loose this..
    There are BMW x5 copies made by some Chinese firm and when BMW tried to sue them the chinese jugde said it looked nothing like the X5 .. Yet you would say otherwise .. Sorry but there is so many counterfeit goods in china and there the ones getting away with it.. Remember the fake apple store..! Apple don’t stand a chance in china..
    Sorry if I’ve upset anyone with this but it’s true…

  • Abe Naji

    CHINA INFRINGES COPYRIGHT LAWS ON EVERYTHING!!! I can’t believe this company is gonna try this.. They can’t sut in china because the have horrible copyright laws so apples sharks are gonna chew these lames up like a goldfish. Tell thosemgoldfishes that apples not gonna settle or backdown. Sorry android users another loss

  • I am surprised there is no Chinese Apple INC. that wants to sue Apple for stealing their name. But wait a year or so. It will show up claiming it was established in year 1800. It’s a common practice in China and an easy way to earn money. I can’t believe Apple even wants to play this game. I know the money they could earn in China could be great but common.