Judicial expertise key in Zhizhen vs. Apple battle

By Fan Junmei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 4, 2013
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Xiao i Robot vs. Apple [File photo] 

Judicial expertise presented by Shanghai's Zhizhen Network Technology Co., Ltd. has become the focus of a patent infringement suit involving Apple in Shanghai.

At a court hearing held Tuesday, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co., Ltd. -- the developer of a voice technology called Xiao i Robot -- presented judicial expertise stating Apple's Siri application in fact copied Xiao i Robot's artificial intelligence technology.

Apple's attorney pointed out that the judicial expertise Zhizhen presented was issued by an intellectual property judicial accrediting agency in Shanghai's Pudong District. He claimed that the plaintiff should have sought judicial expertise from the Supreme People's Court, or an accrediting agency of a higher level authorized by the Ministry of Justice. He also argued that the three experts who gave the expertise were only qualified for accrediting computer related patents.

The most controversial factor was the accrediting approach the experts had adopted. Apple's attorney argued that it was ridiculous to use functions and results to disapprove of technical solutions, saying, "All roads lead to Rome. How can you tell whether I get there by high speed train or airplane?"

Zhizhen's attorney Yuan Yang refuted that the accrediting agency mentioned had been authorized by the Shanghai Municipal Judicatory Bureau, making it unnecessary to ask an accrediting agency of a higher level to do it again. There was nothing wrong with inviting computer experts to do the job, because the suit was essentially all about a computer programme.

As for the accrediting approach, Yuan argued that the accrediting agency had been left with no other option as Apple refused to reveal any related technical solutions. During the test, the experts asked more than 20 questions, to which both Siri and Xiao i Robot offered similar replies. Yuan reaffirmed in court that the judicial expertise Zhizhen presented was rigorous, legal and reliable.

Nevertheless, Apple insisted that Siri and Xiao i Robot were completely different. Its attorney explained Siri is a personal assistant who helps with what you want to do, while Xiao i Robot is a chat robot which is mainly used for chatting and gaming.

Apple also claimed that its server was not located in China and therefore not bound by the Chinese patent law.

Another hearing may possibly take place next month, and it may take the court another four or five months to reach a verdict, said Yuan.

Zhizhen had filed for a patent for its Xiao i Robot with China's State Intellectual Property Office back in 2004, and received its approval in 2006.

Siri Inc., essentially a start-up company Apple acquired in 2010, started producing the mobile virtual assistant in 2007. Apple later bundled the technology into their iPhone 4S smart phone in 2011.

Zhizhen filed the lawsuit on June 21, 2012, several days after Apple had paid $60 million to Proview Technology (Shenzhen) to end a protracted legal dispute over the iPad trademark in China.

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