Baidu, China’s largest search engine company, has filed lawsuits against Apple Inc. and other app developers over the distribution of fake copies of its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot app, Ernie Bot on the Apple App Store.
The company announced that it has filed lawsuits not only against Apple but also against the developers behind the apps in Beijing Haidian People’s Court, according to a Reuters report on Saturday.
For those unaware, Ernie Bot (Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration) is an AI chatbot service product of Baidu, which was released on March 17, 2023. It is an advanced natural language understanding model that is designed to comprehend and generate human-like text responses.
The Chinese AI chatbot is also touted to be China’s answer to AI chatbot technology like U.S. based OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.
In a statement posted on its official “Baidu AI” WeChat account, Beijing-based Baidu explained that there is no official app for Ernie currently available. It further added that any Ernie Bot app available on the App Store or other platforms is counterfeit until an official announcement is made.
“At present, Ernie does not have any official app,” Baidu said in a statement late on Friday posted on its official “Baidu AI” WeChat account along with a photograph of a document showing its court filing.
“Until our company’s official announcement, any Ernie app you see from App Store or other stores are fake,” it said.
When Reuters searched the Apple App Store on Saturday, it found at least four counterfeit apps with the Chinese-language name of the Ernie bot that was still available.
Unlike its competitors, Baidu has not yet made the Ernie Bot app widely available for public use. Those interested in utilizing the AI chatbot are required to request and obtain access codes from Baidu. Only selected users who have obtained valid access codes can use the AI chatbot app.
In its statement, Baidu has also warned against individuals selling access codes for the Ernie Bot app.
Apple has yet to issue an official statement on the lawsuits filed against the company and its App Store developers.