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Taiwanese man sues Apple over FaceTime technology patent from 2003

Apple is facing new legal trouble in China over its FaceTime video chat software.

A Taiwanese man has filed a lawsuit against the Cupertino firm alleging that the tech giant's FaceTime infringes on a technology patent he owns, according to M.I.C. Gadget. The man, known only as Lee, claims to hold a patent on a "voice network personal digital assistant" technology, which actually sounds more like a description of Siri than FaceTime.

Regardless, according to M.I.C. Gadget, the Intermediate People's Court in Zhenjiang accepted the case on 31 July, and has notified Apple, but the tech giant has yet to respond. The first hearing is scheduled for next month. Lee has not specified how much money in damages he is seeking from Apple, but has indicated that he wants Apple to stop the patent violation.

In a statement obtained by M.I.C. Gadget, Lee's lawyer said the man is a technician at a Taiwanese technology company. While traveling abroad for work, he came up with the idea for an Internet-based calling feature on mobiles to mitigate the high cost of international calling.

He apparently applied for a patent for this idea in 2003. The patent was granted, and initially belonged to the company for which Lee was working. That company has since transferred ownership of the patent to Lee.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time Apple has been sued in China. The iPhone manufacturer was sued in China twice recently over its voice activated personal assistant Siri, and also just settled a legal battle with Proview Technology over the rights to the iPad name. Proview sought $1.6 billion (£1.03 billion) in damages, but the case was settled last month with Apple paying $60 million (£38.5 million).

Apple announced recently that with iOS 6, FaceTime will be available over cellular networks, not just Wi-Fi. There were also reports that AT&T would charge for using FaceTime over cellular, but nothing has been announced.