Apple hit with patent lawsuit in China over FaceTime feature

A court in the Chinese city of Zhenjiang has accepted the case

The number of new lawsuits against Apple in China continues to grow, as a Taiwanese man has sued the company, alleging that the FaceTime feature on its iPhone and iPad infringes on one of his patents.

A court in the Chinese city of Zhenjiang has accepted the case, and is informing Apple of the lawsuit, said a court staff member, who did not disclose his name.

The alleged infringement involves a patent that covers a technology using voice communication for personal digital assistants. Li Zhengdao filed for the patent in mainland China on behalf of his Taiwanese company in 2003, which was later granted by authorities in 2004.

Bu Lin, the lawyer representing Li, said on Wednesday his client noticed the alleged infringement after buying an iPhone in Zhenjiang during a business trip. He then filed the lawsuit. "Apple's FaceTime is infringing on his patent," Bu said, adding that they have yet to decide whether Apple should be asked to compensate for any damages. "We just want them to stop with the infringement," he said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company's FaceTime feature allow users to video chat through certain Apple devices when connected over a Wi-Fi network.

The patent lawsuit comes after Apple agreed to pay US$60 million to a local Chinese firm to buy ownership of the iPad trademark in China. Two other Chinese companies are also suing Apple, one for trademark infringement over the Snow Leopard name, the other alleging patent infringement relating to Apple's Siri feature.

In neighboring Taiwan, a university has also filed legal action against Apple in the U.S., claiming that Siri infringes on one of the school's patents. The university filed the lawsuit to counter attempts by foreign firms including Apple to stifle the sales of Taiwanese electronic companies through patent battles.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service

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