Chinese Companies Again Using Patents To Punish Foreign Competitors: Apple Sued Over Siri In Shanghai

from the had-to-expect-this dept

For many years, US companies and government officials complained publicly and privately that China just didn't "respect" patents. They would point to how various Chinese companies were famous for making knockoffs of various products as evidence of this, and they'd put strong diplomatic pressure on China to both "respect" foreign patents more and beef up its own patent system. Of course, for years, we've been warning about just how stupid this is. China recognizes that patents are really a protectionist tool, and is using them as such. It has certainly increased its patenting effort... but nearly every single major patent lawsuit in China has been about punishing foreign companies and blocking competition to domestic Chinese companies.

So it should come as little surprise to find out that a company in Shanghai, Zhi Zhen Internet Technology, is now suing Apple, claiming that voice-controlled virtual assistant Siri violates its patents. No one seems to know specifically what's in the patent, but I do wonder if it matters. Like so many Chinese patent lawsuits this one just seems likely to end up with a foreign competitor being kept out of the market in favor of the domestic version.

And yet... American companies and politicians will still continue to insist that China needs to "strengthen" its patent system, even as Chinese companies and politicians must be laughing at just how self-defeating the Americans are. We're literally urging them to set up a system that helps Chinese companies block American companies from their market.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Eric (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    One might say that turnabout is fair play. But, it wouldn't help the situation for anyone if we returned the favor.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Can we get a law passed saying patents are illegal yet?

    At least the way they've been abused.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    'Chinese companies and politicians must be laughing at just how self-defeating the Americans are'

    and serves them right. the onlt reasons this crap started was because of greed on the part of US companies like Microsoft and the entertainment industries. had they have kept their mouths shut, their noses out, things would have plodded along quite nicely and quite quietly. now they dont like the can of worms they themselves opened. well, here's news for them. tuff shit!! they wont learn anything from this and will do the same thing again very soon. i am sure China is crapping backwards over this!

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

    Or if you prefer a more recent prophet...

    Instant Karma's gonna get you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    He who lives by the sword...

    'nuff said.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    This is the problem with the pro-patent & copyright lobbies. They are only looking at the past and trying to apply it to the present, not realizing how bad they are making their (and our) futures.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    So wait...

    China copies US patents left and right with complete disregard and without consequence. Why is it that they aren't simply treated in the same manner? Granted that is an enormous simplification of the situation but it is a core issue here.

     

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      sehlat (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:08pm

      Re: So wait...

      The answer to your question is obvious: because if our own companies start ignoring patents right and left, sooner or later somebody will start question whether we need patents in order to innovate in the first place.

      Or has that process started already anyway? :)

       

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      weneedhelp (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

      Re: So wait...

      "China copies US patents left and right with complete disregard and without consequence. Why is it that they aren't simply treated in the same manner?"

      Made in China.

       

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      Chris-Mouse (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

      Re: So wait...

      What percentage of 'American' devices are made in Chinese factories and shipped over to the USA?

      What happens to all those American companies if Chinese patents mean those devices can no longer be manufactured in China?

      How long do you think it would take to rebuild all the manufacturing capability and expertise that got outsourced to China?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

      Re: So wait...

      "China copies US patents left and right"

      [citation needed]

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

      Re: So wait...

      "but it is a core issue here."

      No, this is something you entirely made up out of nowhere. U.S. lawyers, patent trolls, law firms, and non-engineers are not nearly as inventive or innovative as Chinese engineers. To say otherwise is ridiculous. Any moron with half a brain can sit around all day and come up with ideas to patent. Hardly makes us inventive or innovative or useful. China doesn't need our alleged intellect or our patents, they have their own engineers. We don't have manufacturing here partly because all we have are dumb lawyers like yourself sitting around trying to acquire patents and blaming everyone else for inventing and innovating without giving them and you money. We don't need your dumb patents and if you don't like it find another job besides collecting patents and suing everyone and blaming them for innovating without giving your lazy butt money.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    and doesn't apple use the same thing to block them in America and the world?? pot, kettle.....

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

    Full Circle

    What comes around goes around. Those who advocate "strong" so-called "intellectual property" rights will die by them. This is a particularly losing proposition for the US as other countries develop their own "portfolios" of so-called "intellectual property" and the US portfolio declines.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

    Umm, those nasty Chinese

    So, regardless whether or not the Chinese company has a valid patent, they're Chinese, so they must be trying to keep Apple out of the China market as we know that's what the Chinese do, is what. Those Chinese. What was it that Kaiser Wilhelm used to call 'em?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

    Chinese companies and politicians must be laughing at just how self-defeating the Americans are.

    I take umbrage with that remark.

    The world is laughing at just how self-defeating the Americans are. America's day is done. It's simply a matter of time. And all the false tough-guy bravado in the world won't help.

     

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    Atkray (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 2:55pm

    but....



    But...


    BUT....

    PIRACY!!!

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 4:13pm

    Live by the lawyer...

    Excuse me while I have a good laugh due to Apple being on the receiving end of the anti-competitive use of patents for once...

     

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    fb39ca4 (profile), Jul 9th, 2012 @ 4:47pm

    So why don't they put an export ban on Apple products?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2012 @ 10:01pm

    An incredibly dismissive post.

    " No one seems to know specifically what's in the patent, but I do wonder if it matters. Like so many Chinese patent lawsuits this one just seems likely to end up with a foreign competitor being kept out of the market in favor of the domestic version. "

    No, it could be that (a) nobody has bothered to look yet, and (b) that in fact the company did develop this technology themselves, inside the Chinese market, but it never went outside.

    Perhaps a little research rather than an off handed flip is a better way to go?

     

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      Seegras (profile), Jul 10th, 2012 @ 4:17am

      Re:

      Of course it could have been developed in China, years ago. Or China could just have backdated the patents.

      It doesn't really matter. The only winners with patents are lawyers, patent offices, trolls and maybe incumbents who try to keep competition out of their garden.

      The only way to win is not to play.

       

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    Steve, Jul 10th, 2012 @ 2:22am

    What's good for the Goose!

    That's all.........

     

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    staff, Jul 10th, 2012 @ 6:58am

    more dissembling

    The Chinese market is controlled by the Chinese. There is little we can do about it. That's the way it works for sovereigns. Rather, what we should be focused on is protecting our creations in the US. Patents are the only effective way of doing that. Otherwise, we expose our country to copycat imports from China and other low wage nations. Foreign markets are controlled by foreign patents to the extent they exist and are enforceable.

     

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