The future for Apple in the patent litigation in China over Siri
Tough as it is for Apple, it’s not a unique situation or one designed specially to hurt a foreign company. The latest ruling simply followed a well-worn judicial habit: The capital's intermediate court often decides in favor of review board decisions. However, the next court up the ladder, the Beijing High Court, often overturns those rulings. Apple could win this administrative suit yet.
Even if the high court ultimately rules in favor of the review board's ruling upholding Zhizhen’s patent, it doesn’t mean that it is actually enforceable. Once the administrative case is settled, proceedings would then revert back to the Shanghai First Intermediate People’s Court, where the case would resume as a civil lawsuit. In that suit, flash-frozen since 2012, the onus would be on Zhizhen to prove that its patent covers the same scope as that for Apple’s Siri. That might be difficult.
[Steve] Song said he believed that the language used in the drafting of the patent could be plied to Apple’s advantage thanks to an important 2008 Supreme People’s Court interpretation issued for China’s patent law.
The Supreme People’s Court stated that an infringing solution should cover each and every element of each claim in the patent concerned. Song believes that when it comes to Zhizhen's patent, “the drafting of the claim has a lot of drawbacks and flaws.” Chief among them is listing a user as one of the patent's technical features. While a common mistake in Chinese patents, it would be difficult for the court in Shanghai to ignore the flaw and the clear departure in scope it makes from Apple’s Siri patent.
Steve Song authored an article in China Patents and Trademarks