Chinese Man Sues Apple Over FaceTime
August 7, 2012

Apple Faces Chinese FaceTime Lawsuit

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

As they say, another day, another Apple suit. More specifically, Apple now has to ward off yet another suit in China, adding additional hurdles in their great Westward expansion.

When Apple finally settled their legal issues with display maker Proview earlier this summer, other suits immediately followed.

Only hours after Apple agreed to pay out $60 million to the debt-ridden display maker, a household chemical company by the name of “Snow Leopard Household Chemical Co., LTD” filed a lawsuit against Apple for using the “Snow Leopard” name in China. Later, a voice application developer, Zhizhen Network Technology lobbed a suit Apple´s way, saying Siri infringes on several patents they own in regards to “a type of instant messaging chat bot system.”

Today, Apple´s iDevices and Mac line are being accused, as a Taiwanese man claims his patent on a "voice network personal digital assistant" has been infringed upon by Apple´s FaceTime feature.

FaceTime is present on newer iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches as well as many newer MacBook Pros and iMac desktops.

According to MIC Gadget, the Intermediate People´s Court in Zhenjiang confirmed that they accepted the case 2 weeks ago on July 31st. The court has already notified Apple, though a representative from Apple´s legal team has yet to respond.

The Taiwanese man, known simply as “Lee” by MIC Gadget, has said he discovered the infringement after using FaceTime on an iPhone 4S he had recently purchased in Zheijiang. Lee has not yet said how much money he hopes to win in this case, but has insisted that Apple stop violating these patents. The first hearing in this case could be held next month.

According to a statement given by Lee´s representative lawyer, Lee was inspired to create the technology in the patent after years of traveling.

“Lee is a technician of a Taiwanese tech company, he needed to travel aboard to various cities for work, therefore he always made international call to his company, parents and friends. Due to this reason, Lee was inspired and came up with an idea of implementing internet call feature on phones. Subsequently, he applied a patent for this idea in 2003,” said Lee´s lawyer.

With so many infringement accusations being thrown at large companies such as Apple, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which of these accusations are legitimate and which are frivolous. As for Lee´s claims, it´s hard to tell if he is taking an opportunistic approach in this lawsuit, or if he simply didn´t realize the 2 year old technology had been infringing on his patents all along.

Elsewhere in Taiwan, a local University is accusing Siri of violating two of their patents.

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has filed a suit in an East Texas court against Siri for violating a patent which involves a “method and system for matching speech data” and a second which details a “Speech recognition system.”

The team at NCKU says they´ll be seeking damages as a part of the suit, though they are waiting for numbers on how many Siri-enabled devices are sold to determine how much they´ll be asking for.