Chinese company claims to have invented Siri

China has not been legendary for free speech since the Chin dynasty, but that has not stopped a company claiming to have invented Apple’s voice activated search engine, Siri.

According to a report in China Daily, Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology is suing Apple and asserting the company infringes on a voice technology patent owned by Zhizhen.

The company sent a legal notice to Apple in May but Apple ignored it.

Company chairman Yuan Hui told the China Daily that his company had more than 100 million users in China, and many companies are using his product.

He said that he only really started to care when Siri became available in China starting early this year, when the iPhone 4S was officially launched behind the bamboo curtain. Apple launched Siri services in Mandarin and Cantonese.

The technology is based around Xiao i Robot software, which allows users to ask questions and can respond to voice commands, the company claims.

The software is available on mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, and has been running on online chat tool Windows Live Messenger for a while.

The software had proved popular with China’s three major telecom operators, computer-maker Lenovo, government agencies as well as major banks and financial institutions.

Zhizhen is going for the “take no prisoners” approach. It says that it does not want money, just for Apple to stop infringing on its patent and cover the court costs.