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Apple sued by Shanghai firm for allegedly treading on patent with Siri, may say 'ni hao' in court

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For all the heat it dishes out elsewhere in the world, Apple has had a hard time catching a break in China -- between having to settle with Proview over the iPad trademark and a recent, smaller dispute over Snow Leopard, it's been primarily on the defensive. The latest rear-guard action is in Shanghai, where Zhi Zhen Internet Technology claims that Siri's voice command charms infringe on a patent used for the Xiao i Robot voice system on phones and the web. We're just hearing about the lawsuit now, but Zhi Zhen insists that it's been long in the making with accusations filed in June and a patent application dating all the way back to 2004. Apple is characteristically silent on how it will tackle the case. We suspect it'll be more than a little eager to fight back in court: in addition to the lawsuit presenting a very conspicuous roadblock to bringing Siri to China with iOS 6, it comes from a company that hasn't been shy about plastering the Siri icon all over its home page.

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