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Apple loses Round 1 of Siri patent case in China

An obscure patent-infringement case made headlines in China Wednesday after a Beijing court ruled against Apple and upheld the validity of a Chinese speech-recognition patent.

Apple had taken Shanghai-based Zhizhen Internet Technology and China's State Intellectual Property Office to court seeking a ruling that Zhizhen's speech-recognition patent rights were invalid.

According the People's Daily, the First Intermediate Court in Beijing decided in Zhizhen's favor Tuesday, clearing the way for the company to pursue the patent-infringement suit it first filed in 2012. Zhizhen claims that the speech-recognition software in Apple's Siri infringes Zhizhen's own voice-recognition system.

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri, and we do not believe we are using this patent," a Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman told Reuters. "While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen."

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (aapl) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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