Apple fails to kick Chinese Siri patent

The firm might now be at risk if it sells iPhones in China

We've come to love Siri since its launch in 2011, but China's been smitten with its own voice-controlled AI since the early noughties...

Apple has been unsuccessful in getting Chinese tech firm Zhizhen's voice-recognition patent ruled invalid, meaning the Cupertino company is at risk of losing the ability to sell Siri devices in China.

The Shanghai-based company wants to block Apple devices that carry the software, which includes any iPhone after and including the iPhone 4S, in the country as it infringes a pre-existing patent by the firm.

Apple attempted to block the Chinese patent when it was accused by Zhizhen of infringing intellectual property,

"Apple believes deeply in protecting innovation, and we take intellectual property rights very seriously," says an Apple spokesperson. "Apple created Siri to provide customers with their own personal assistant by using their voice."

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri, and we do not believe we are using this patent. While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen."

Zhizhen's AI, dubbed Xiao i Robot, was launched back in 2003 as a text-based chat bot, but has since evolved to function in much the same way as Siri does today. The patent in question was applied for in 2004, and granted in 2006.

Siri launched in 2011, meaning Apple was late to the game compared to Zhizhen. Apple says it uses different processes to power Siri than the ones Zhizhen uses with Xiao i Robot, a counter which a court is still ruling over.