Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Co. Ltd. (or Xiao-i) has sued the tech giant, Apple Inc. over its voice assistant tech. Xiao-i has accused Apple of infringement of its patents and is seeking $1.43 billion in damages.

Shanghai Zhizhen has alleged that the voice-recognition technology behind Siri violates the firm’s voice-recognition patent.  The company had submitted application to patent its voice recognition technology in back in 2004 and the patent was granted in the year 2009.

The subsequent controversy often referred to as “Siri Patent Fight” in the news stories had erupted following similarities between the Zhizhen’s chatbot and Apple’s popular voice assistant, Siri.

The legal battle over voice recognition tech between the two companies has been going on for several years now.Xiao-i had first filed a lawsuit against Apple in the year 2012 alleging patent infringement over the technology. However, it is worth noting that the Chinese Supreme court has already sustained the AI firm’s Chinese patent for its chatbot’s voice recognition technology.

Potential Impact on Apple’s Sales in China

In its recent lawsuit, besides the $1.43 billion claim in damages, the Chinese artificial intelligence company has also demanded the US tech giant to stop “using, manufacturing, promising to sell, selling as well as importing products” that violates on its patent.

Thus, if the Chinese firm wins the lawsuit, it may block Apple from selling many of its products in the Asian country including its iPhone. The potential restrictions would be a major blow to the smartphone manufacturer as it currently incorporates the voice assistant in most of its major devices. Additionally, China is the second most important market for Apple in the world thus a ban in China could significantly hit its revenues. Interestingly, the lawsuit has come at a time when the trade rivalry between the two nations has already been growing and impacting the operations and business of various tech firms.

However, Apple has also issued a statement saying that its voice assistant, Siridoes not contain any features included in the Xiao-i patent. The statement added that the independent appraisers certified by the Supreme People’s Court of China had concluded that the US tech giant does not infringe on Xiao-i Robot’s technology.

It further read, “We are disappointed Xiao-i Robot has filed another lawsuit.” Apple has also said that it looks forward to presenting the facts to the court and will continue to focus on delivering the best products and services in the world to its customers.”