Lawsuit tries to hold Apple responsible for fake apps

Baidu has filed lawsuits against various software developers that it says have violated intellectual property it holds on its Ernie Bot app, an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot that aims to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard.

Leaving aside the relative merits of the two technologies, Baidu is incensed that fake versions of Ernie (Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration) are already appearing on the Apple Store – and its lawsuit has been levelled both at the developers uploading them and Apple for hosting them.

Baidu has filed lawsuits against the defendants in Beijing Haidian Court, according to a statement seen by Reuters, which says the Chinese search engine company posted a notice of its intention to sue on its official ‘Baidu AI’ WeChat account.

In the statement, the company stated that any Ernie app found on the App Store – or indeed any other store – is counterfeit unless and until the company issues an official announcement. A search of the App Store by Reuters on Saturday found at least four fake Ernie bot apps were still available.

Ernie launched last month in a pre-recorded presentation hosted by Baidu chief executive, disappointing some investors who were hoping for a live demonstration of its capabilities, and for now it is only available to users who apply for access codes.

Baidu also warned in its statement that it will take action if it is made aware of users making those codes available to others.

The motivation for uploading the counterfeit apps remains obscure at the moment, but could be to hijack unsuspecting users’ devices, leaving them open to fraud and identity theft.

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