Saturday, March 24, 2012

Goliath v. David, AAC style

Last week a large, profitable company sued a small start-up business for patent infringement.  As a non-legal person, I can only guess that this sort of thing must happen fairly often.  I would also guess that the large companies, which have the means to hire crackerjack legal teams and drag cases out, must often win.  And while I guess I feel bad for the small businesses, I’ve never really cared before now.
Because this time, the stakes are high.

This time, it’s my daughter’s voice on the line.  Literally.

My daughter, Maya, will turn four in May and she can’t speak.  The only word that she can consistently say with 100% clarity is “done”—which, while helpful, isn’t really enough to functionally communicate.   When Maya was two and a half we introduced her to the iPad, and we’ve danced with AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) ever since.  We experimented with a few communication apps, but nothing was a perfect fit.  After an extensive search for the perfect app, we found it:  Speak for Yourself.   Simple and brilliant, we saw that it had the potential to serve Maya into adulthood, but was also simple enough for her to start using immediately. 

And she liked it.  And it worked.  And I started to have little flashes of the future, in which she could rapidly tap out phrases and ideas and tell me more and more of the secret thoughts that fill her head—the ones that I’m hungry to hear and she’s dying to share but her uncooperative mouth just can’t get out. 

My kid is learning how to “talk.”  It’s breathtaking.

But now Speak for Yourself in under fire, and from a surprising (to an AAC outsider) or not-so-surprising (to an AAC insider) source.  They’re being sued by Semantic Compaction Systems and Prentke Romich Company, big names in the AAC world.  SCS and PRC allege that Speak for Yourself is infringing on their patents.  I’m going to be honest: I don’t know about patents and infringement, and I’m not going to get into debates about the legal merits of the case, because that’s a conversation in which I would quickly drown. 

And if you were in my shoes, you would see that the legal part isn’t the part that matters.

Here’s what matters:  It’s a very logical assumption (confirmed by the AAC professionals that I’ve spoken with) that if SCS/PRC win this lawsuit, they will eliminate Speak for Yourself, the app that my 3 year old is working her damnedest to learn. 

They will remove it from the market.  It will disappear.   They have no reason to keep it alive and one giant reason to kill it . . . money.   PRC can make around $9,000 by selling one of their communication devices, and only a few hundred per iPad app.  Hardware profits annihilate software profits.

Lest you think that I’m unfairly anti-communication device or pro-app, I point you to this post, in which I declared that an iPad app wouldn’t be good enough for Maya, that I was determined only a full communication device would serve her properly.  Shortly after writing that post we met with reps from PRC and Dynavox to explore their devices.  We were disappointed to see that the devices were too big (both literally and figuratively) for Maya.   It was clear that in a few years PRC’s device would fit, but I didn’t want to wait.  I sent emails out (to users, AAC experts, and company reps) asking about whether PRC was developing an app for the iPad, and the answer was a clear no.   

I went on to learn that customers have been requesting an app for quite some time from PRC, but they seem to have no interest in joining the iPad market, much to the dismay of the users.  And why not?  Why not make an app that could be used by some of their nonverbal consumers?  Why not create a more affordable alternative to the large devices, something that could conceivably bring a voice to many, many more nonverbal children and adults?  I want to think that it’s not just about the money . . . but it seems to clearly be just about the money.

Interestingly, PRC’s mission statement starts with “We Believe Everyone Deserves A Voice.”  Perhaps “We Believe Everyone Who Purchases Our Devices Deserves A Voice” or “We Believe Everyone Except Those Needing An Affordable App Deserves a Voice” might be more appropriate alternatives.

Speak for Yourself is a clever, unique app that presents thousands of words in a simple, accessible way.  It’s unlike anything that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot.  The creators are speech therapists and AAC specialists, and they have been helpful and supportive and enthusiastic when I’ve reached out to them.   They seem to be sincerely invested in helping new users learn and use the app, and have been excited when I’ve emailed them about our little successes.  They seem to embrace “everyone deserves a voice” in a much more legitimate way than the plantiff in this case does.  (And I don’t work for them, by the way, I just believe in their product and what it can do for kids like Maya.)

Is it possible that SCS/PRC could win this case and keep the Speak for Yourself app alive? Yes . . . but not likely.  Is it possible that SCS/PRC could win this case, kill Speak for Yourself, and replace it with their own iPad app?  Yes . . . but not likely.  Is it possible that SCS/PRC could lose this case, that Speak for Yourself will win and the playing field will be leveled in a kind of amazing way? Yes.  Yes it is.  And boy, am I hopeful.

For my daughter, the bottom line isn’t about what happens in the courtroom, it’s about what happens to her app.   Her iPad, equipped with its special case and Speak for Yourself, is now her communication device.  She doesn’t care about who is making the money, or patent law, or big guys vs. little guys . . . she cares about being able to tell me that she wants milk instead of water, or she wants to go to the zoo, or about who she played with at school.

She wants to be able to talk. 

And shame on you, PRC, for threatening to take away the closest thing that she’s ever had to a voice. 





Maya, proudly holding her "talker"
  


 
 
Author's note: If you're interested in more responses to this story, please see this post, which links the articles and responses that have been published on other sites. 

111 comments:

rameelin said...

I don't know what else to say except that this saddens me. And I'm really proud of Maya because she is doing so amazing! You're a great mom. Thinking of you guys often...

Amanda said...

This makes me LIVID! Who de we start emailing?? This deserves attention!! They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves!

Richie said...

@Amanda: The people you need to email are the US Patent and Trademark Office and your elected representatives and ask them to outlaw software patents and fix our incredibly broken intellectual property system. Fat lot of good it will do, but if it makes you feel better, then go for it.

It's not clear from the article which patents SCS says are being infringed, not that it really matters whether there's infringement or not. Have you ever been sued? Just hiring a lawyer and trying to settle can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Let alone going to trial -- that's more like hundreds of thousands! So, unless the developer of the iPad app has very deep pockets and a desire to be abused while being bankrupted, I suspect that they will either stop selling the app or make some kind of licensing deal that will increase the cost enormously.

Did I mention how badly our intellectual property system is broken?

Here's glimpse...
http://news.cnet.com/Fixing-a-broken-patent-system/2010-1014_3-6212615.html


It's sad, yes.

Eric said...

Donate to EFF.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest get politicians involved, and also the media. Showing how broken our patent system is since the device has changed more then 10% meaning the ipad is not their device and the application is also not theirs. Am sure tons of work went into producing this simple app which has nothing to do with a company that is doing what it can to stay alive. What the company can do is get their own hardware install Linux on it and sell it for 500. And patent it, its a crude solution since I doubt apple would get involved. If you could get politicians involved and the media as well, since this is clearly a better product both by quality and price. Good luck I hope this helps give a voice to the broken patent system which I doubt since the last overhaul it is quite apparent to everyone that the government is controlled by large corporations which after this economic mess want to keep innovation under control an not let their companies die in the likes of kodak.

Weatherlawyer said...

Hi Maya you little cherub.

I am a real life wizard. What a pity I am not trained in helping you or killing monsters.

Anonymous said...

So get at least 2 iPads and keep them functioning well, with your 'speaking' app on both, and then don't allow updates anymore.

Turn off the WiFi at the point the software company has to remove the App from the Apple App Store and don't allow those iPads to be connected to the App Store any longer so the App can not be removed.

If you work with a software guy who jailbreaks iPads he might be able to allow you to create a backup of what you bought so you can reinstall it to another device later.

Where there is a will there IS A WAY!! Do it.

tr33frog said...

You might want to look at contacting the folks over at eff.org. I don't work for them or know if they will help, but this sort of patent fight is right up their ally.

Good luck!

OpenSystem said...

Is it possible to get the source code for the app you want to keep using?

Having that would enable the programming community (via some anonymous torrent type file share) to maintain and extend the program.

Somehow, you and Maya will get through this...keep asking for help, and some programmers like myself will likely try to assist and maybe an open source project will emerge that Maya and others can use.

Blessings,
ps EFF is a great organization.
Long live free access to information!

Anonymous said...

You might ask a European company to make this. Europeans are not so insane as the US and their patent office. They will never yield to a company like SCS

JustNiz said...

She is misidrecting the blame to a company enforcing their copyright when the fault is Apple's.
I'm continually amazed how even after something like this people refuse to understand that when you choose Apple products or buy stuff through their store you are actually just renting what you actually thought you'd bought, and you've given up your rights because they control the device and everything on it not you.
Maybe next time she'll make sure she gets something that comes on media then no-one can take it away.

Anonymous said...

It might be possible for the company to engineer around those patents after they are disclosed. Or for another company to implement AAC without them.

Anonymous said...

Contact the company that makes the app, and ask that if they are about to get sued into oblivion that they release the source code to you, so that you can open source it.

Westside guy said...

This doesn't address the larger issue, but - if you sync your iPad with your computer, you should be able to keep your existing copy of the app even if it gets pulled from the App Store due to legal action.

Anonymous said...

You might want to spend some time and explain in a post precisely what it is that you like about this app compared to the other solutions you rejected, so that somebody could perhaps create a replacement, should this original go away.

Anonymous said...

Wah wah wah. Just so you know, apple is one of the WORST abusers of patents. So screw you, the company got what was coming for it.

Anonymous said...

Supreme court decided last week maya vs prometheus. It might have huge effect on software patents. It equates algorithms to natural law.....which cant be patented.

Anonymous said...

Open source! They need to release their source code under GPL before the court issues some restraining order. Tell them to put it on github or something. People will download it and then there will be no stopping of it.

Anonymous said...

TouchChat & Proloquo2go offer AAC apps for iPad which work well (my daughter uses TouchChat). TouchChat's website (http://www.silver-kite.com/touchChat) shows that it's sponsored by PRC, so it's not quite accurate to imply the PRC wants to block all such lower priced apps.

Pete Dixon said...

At one time I was interested in getting into the AAC market because the mark-ups were obviously so outrageous. I got fairly far along with my device when I realized an app on a touchscreen device would instantly obsolete my planned invention.

This certainly seems like a case of money outweighing ethics.

Anonymous said...

Without knowing all the facts, like speifically what is being suggested that is infringing, hard to say anything and not jim to conclusion because of it affecting this little girl.

I highly doubt we would here the same reaction if they were suing another large company that makes a similairly expensive option.

Anonymous said...

IF there is merit to the case, then too bad so sad. Anyone who has a right to a patent has a right to protect it. If you spent time and money making something and patented it, selling it for a profit, then someone comes in and basically copies it and sells it at a much lower price, thereby possibly severely reducing your sales, wouldn't you be mad? Same thing. Just because this one instance is unjust, the overall big picture is not. Patent law is very new, and new issues arise all the time that need to be addressed. The system isn't broken, it's in "debugging" mode, as all new areas of law are.

If the physical device and the software is indeed the same then maybe you could request a donation of the device from the company to you? If the device doesn't function the same, then there's probably no merit to the case.

Scott Dunn said...

There is actually some hope for you here: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20120320121216253

and here: http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2009022607324398

Free software developers and users alike would love to see the elimination of software patents. In recent years, the Supreme Court has been slowly, rather cautiously, closing in on the Federal Circuit courts to rein in their "everything under the sun can be patented" philosophy.

Your best hope probably lies with the free software movement. The two cases mentioned above could give new life to the fight against software patents. That would help free software and the developers of Speak for Yourself.

Good luck.

MisplacedKarma said...

The primary goal of the growing "Pirate Party" (political party/movement) in many countries is the elimination of outdated and over-reaching patent and copyright laws.

Next election, see if they have a candidate in your area. I voted for them last election. I live in Canada, but they are more popular in European countries, where they have won seats. I knew they wouldn't win a seat in my area, but the more numbers they have voting for them, the more politicians will take notice and realize they should pay attention to these issues. They have certainly taken notice in Europe, after losing seats to the Pirate Party.

I used to be a software developer. One of the big reasons I stopped doing it professionally is because I didn't want to deal with the headache or costs of these legal challenges. It is not possible to write ANY major software program that doesn't infringe on someone's patent. The laws were originally designed to promote innovation, but they now do the opposite. It's time to abolish them.

Anonymous said...

This blog post is now linked from a high traffic website

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/03/25/1919247/software-patents-not-so-abstract-when-the-lawsuits-hit-home

the mommy psychologist said...

This seems so sad and unfair. Is there anyone I can email to put my two cents in?

"The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself."
www.themommypsychologist.com

Dave said...

@anonymous said: "Patent law is very new, and new issues arise all the time that need to be addressed. The system isn't broken, it's in "debugging" mode, as all new areas of law are."

Patent law has been around for centuries. In the US it's part of the constitution. I believe the founding father's called it a "necessary evil" in supplementary writings though.

Wayne Borean said...

What most people don't realize is that the United States Patent System is a sad joke. In my last job before my body gave out, I spent a lot of time reading patents. We had a lineup of "inventors", some backed by damned huge companies trying to sell us on their inventions.

99.9% of them were junk.

The U.S.P.T.O. Issues patents for the stupidest things. In many cases the patents they issue are legal according to Patent Office rules.

The odds are that this patent can be invalidated. The problem is that doing so will be expensive. A patent case, including work on invalidating the patent is estimated to cost between three to six million dollars.

That's a lot of cash. Most firms can't afford to pay it.

What you can do is blog about this. But you had to supply details. What is the case number. Do you know what court is handing it? Give us what you can.

Wayne

David said...

This is sad, but not really a new problem.

One of the obvious solutions to the problem is to use an open hardware platform (maybe android is better suited than an ipad), and rely on open-source development model to develop AAC software. AFAIR open source software is safe from patents as long as they only release source code (which doesn't constitute a "device"), so the patent violation is left to the (anonymous) end-users compiling&installing the software. This seems to work for mp3, h264 etc.

Of course, having a development community outside the US (i.e. somewhere in the more civilized world) would help, too.

The question is, how many parents of kids that need AAC are out there that have the required skills to start an open source AAC implementation.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? This app is like a grid of pictures linking to a grid of pictures and a load of sound files.

If you can operate a computer well enough to write a blog, you can throw together a few web-pages that do this and more... (I saw the web-page with the authors and their "you can't change the tiles because we know better than you and have PhDs" comments.)

I'll start you off:

{table>{t>{td>{a href="apple.wav">Apple{\a>{\td>...

It'll take you a couple of days at most...

rektide said...

I'm sorry but I think you are greedy to consider this only in the scope of your child.

We all deserve the right to adapt media about us as best serves us. Any kind of legal constraint dictating terms of how we can experience or interact, what mediums or how we use mediums, is a restriction on speech. I surely approve of your daughters right to expression, agree that she ought have many choices to alter the communications about her, but that she has a medical condition ought not be capitol to that right to expression, to media remixing.

We all bear an inherent right to augment and alter communication (AAC) about us: all of us! Patent on mechanisms to do this are patents on speech!

Anonymous said...

If this program is selling for more than a few dollars a piece, it would be hard to believe that it wont be copied or replaced by someone, legally or otherwise, as it doesnt look complex at all.

It's a pity though that patents are an important part of protecting peoples inventions. Shame on you for thinking the wellbeing of an individual trumps the capital investment of a corporation.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about contacting the EFF? They should be able to help you out.

Kuba said...

"She is misidrecting the blame to a company enforcing their copyright when the fault is Apple's." There doesn't seem to be anything true in this sentence, not a single thing. The case is not about copyrights. The case is not about Apple. The case is about software patents. Here's what software is: it's mathematical formulas. Of course they have a meaning to us, humans -- when executed by a machine, it looks like the software has some use to us. The machine of course neither understands any of it nor has any sophistication about it. The software is literally a bunch of mathematical instructions, like: move the number from here to there, compare to some other number, if equal then add some other numbers together, and on and on. All software is instructions like that, no more, no less. And somehow the idiots at the patent office thought it OK to patent it nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

Patent abuse is rampant. Open source is no panacea. How crazy - how about a document with hyperlinks violates several of a company's patents. Take a look at openises.sourceforge.net. This was an open source project bringing emergency service software to small volunteer departments - all at no cost. They had a project called Cards911 which consisted of an OpenOffice document. The document consisted of a series of questions that a dispatcher would ask a caller who had a medical emergency. It also provided instructions to the caller - like how to do cpr or stop bleeding. The questions and instructions were linked by hyperlinks. A company called Medical Priority Dispatch shut it down by claiming it violated their patents. Go to the site to read more. Its all about money, and if you die, oh well.....

Anonymous said...

Why can't she talk?

Dana said...

Some replies, mainly to the kind and informative tech folks who have come this way:

1. Maya can't speak because she doesn't have enough control of the muscles in her mouth to do so.

2. I've passed along the EFF and other info in the comments to the SfY team.

3. Most of the tech recommendations (jailbreaking, coding, open sourcing) go right over my non-tech head. Maya's iPad will likely be disconnected from syncing with the apple store, however, if I feel like her app is in jeopardy of being remotely deleted.

4. Some people have commented (elsewhere) that this is an emotional plea that has no place in patent debates. Well, maybe. I'm leaving the patent debates to people who actually know how to debate patents, and I'm going to stick to writing what I know---here, what I know is that I love this app and I'm angry it's in jeopardy, especially since I think that it's *unfairly* in jeopardy.

5. I'm aware about Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, and the other communication apps on the market. In my opinion, they are not as good. Certainly, they are not a good fit for Maya. After a year of trying things, Speak for Yourself came onto the market and was a (nearly) perfect match. I'm really happy that the other apps work well for other kids and adults, but they just don't for us.

6. Thanks for stopping by, for adding some different perspectives to the mix, and for sharing the story of this lawsuit.

7. The actual lawsuit is linked in the blog post, so if you wanted to see the patent details I think that's where you would look.

Dan_Linder said...

You might consider registering a petition with "Change.org":
http://www.change.org/
They have a pretty good system that appears to have had some success with high profile cases such as yours.
Dan

Sarah Kay said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time. I've never read comments that made so annoyed and angry before. Especially those saying that your 'voice', Maya's VOICE, doesn't belong in a patent disagreement case. I'm guessing these are not regular readers. Very hopeful for you guys and thankful that there was just as much non-judgmental tech help and support. I thought your response to these comments once again shows that you ROCK!

RobertSheaO said...

I would quickly jailbreak that thing so you can turn off the "Apple Kill Switch" that allows them to remotely remove apps.

Anonymous said...

The point of the article is that the system is broken.

It´s another reason why we all need a new republic (that´s a new country), and migrate everything to that.
Only this time we have some design in place to fix the system:

1) Bigger companies vs smaller companies in a fair system, lawyers don´t exist, something like that.

or

2) No patents, law of the jungle

PhantomAct said...

Software patents are evil:
(1) When our kids graduate from a programming degree, they might want to start a small software company and then the big players will crush them = unemployment = what's the point of paying $40K/year? Join a big company or get crushed by one.
(2) Software patents were supposed to protect companies for a while so they can get sales without competition. How long should a software patent last? In Europe, hardware patents (the original patents) lasted a few years and logically a software should last maybe a year.
(3) The only soultion now is to buy a license just like those Android phone makers are. They didn't dare challenge Microsoft and now must pay $5 per phone to them.
(4) The software patent system is broken. Just google USPTO and stupid patents.
(5) Sadly, Obama wants the US to be a first-to-patent nation!!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I think it important for everyone to see the human side of these patent legalities and your post has done that. It all seems to be about the money and it's the people, like Maya, who end up missing out.


Jailbreak your iPad and backup the software so they can't take it from you.

Anonymous said...

Like others have said once u sync the app to iTunes on ur computer the app will stay there forever, unless they come out w an updated version which will get upgraded to a newer version if u choose to manually. if u want to be sure just get an iPod touch as a backup and transfer the app to your iPod touch as a backup, them if something happens u can always use the iPod touch to transfer the working app back into iTunes and then to other devices. This has worked for me for apps that I want to keep at older versions which are no longer available and replaced by newer versions that removes functions I needed due to developer greed.

Yotam said...

You don't need to worry about the app being remotely deleted - its impossible. The App Store work by taking an installation file (called an iPA) and then "burning" your ITunes account into it. Therefore, as long as you have the original IPA file (which you can backup by going into iTunes, clicking on the apps on the right sidebar, and then dragging the app out to a safe place), no one can take the app away from you.

Ivan Waumans said...

I suggest we all buy the app. This way we give the makers of the app the means to hire good lawyers :)

Anonymous said...

So get at least 2 iPads and keep them functioning well, with your 'speaking' app on both, and then don't allow updates anymore.

Turn off the WiFi at the point the software company has to remove the App from the Apple App Store and don't allow those iPads to be connected to the App Store any longer so the App can not be removed.

^^^FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, ASAP!

Anonymous said...

As mentioned before, just backup the application (.ipa file) to a save place (drag it out off iTunes to the Desktop or elsewhere).

The application being banned from the AppStore doesn't remove it from your iDevice.

Apple does have a remote delete but as far as I know, this has never been used, even back when there was a big debate (at least here in France) about some app listing jewish VIPs (the app was pulled from the store but not remotely killed on devices).

If it really gets killed remotely anyway, it's still time to switch off WiFi / syncing a.s.o. and afterwards reinstall the backup onto your device.

The only problem you might run into later on is the app maybe not being compatible with upcoming firmwares (say iOS 6). So be careful when upgrading your devices.

Anonymous said...

Apple doesn't remove apps from your device, period. In fact, if you bought an app that has since been pulled, you are still able to download it.

You would want to keep a copy of the app in a safe place, just in case. And you would also want to check and make sure that it works with new software updates before updating the iPad.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Amanda Kay.This post is about Maya's voice! YOU bought something to help YOUR daughter.You had no idea who discovered or patented it.That's not your job.Your job was to find the best fit for Maya and you did.She should not suffer because of this.

fyngyrz said...

Prior art

I wrote software that does this years before the patent date. Details here:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2745775&cid=39472747

...you (or the lawyers, anyway) should be abel to defuse the legal challenge with this information.

Anonymous said...

Being around other kids is what will help Maya the most, the same thing happen to me when I was young playing and talking with other kids is what helped me

glorybe said...

First I pray that the child will one day speak as the rest of us do.
I wonder if that American's With Disabilities Act might bring governmental assistance to this fight. The ACLU might want to get into this area as well as civil liberties are involved as well.
Best outcome is that the child is healed and the product remains available and that she is rich from the law suits.

Anonymous said...

Your iPad backup contains the software, you can always re-install it. Apple will not kill the software from your device.

I bought a Mario Bros clone from China, still works and I think I can still download from Apple even though it was removed from the store.

So relax and keep using the software.

Janet said...

Sad story this... I hope this all turns out well for Maya...

About the negative comments: I'm a regular at Techdirt and there are people who get like that as soon as you say patents/copyright laws should be altered because they're unfair. They think just because a company is a rightsholder it should be allowed to screw over regular people and small companies to earn more. Just ignore them, they're blockheads. Even if the system isn't broken there have been completely ridiculous patents handed out over the years and it's incredibly hard to get rid of em. One of the biggest problems is that most people don't know about this and probably never will, unless something like this happens to them.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how the little app for iPad infriges their rights if they do not have already such an app on the Market made by themselves. No idea what will be the outcome, but it sounds really reasonable to make sure that the product is competitive to what patent holder has and if not then they are free to offer their own thing. If the big guys still want to fight they should first offer the application for iPad -- otherways IMO their claims are ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Something that not many people know is that PRC is not a big glamorous corporation that is collecting $7,500 for a device to make a huge profit. A lot of that money probably goes to the tons of free trainings that the company provides. It is a quaint little office in Wooster, OH that is employee owned and operated. No stocks, fancy buildings, company cars, etc.
These free trainings are where the SLPs that designed this app got their idea. The app looks exactly like Unity and mimics the description of LAMP (Language-Acquaition through Motor Planning) pretty exactly. Their research was done using Vantage Lite devices (produced by PRC). So Maya would probably be just as successful using the Vocabulary Builder feature on a Vantage Lite. I understand there is a huge price difference and funding sources are not cooperative. Also I get that a Vantage Lite weighs more than an iPad, but it also has a handle at the top, and I have seen children as young as 2 carrying them around.
Don't get me wrong, these "big" AAC companies need to get some apps out there to keep up with technological trends, but that is their job to do, not anyone else's. PRC/SCS aren't out to take away your daughter's voice, they are the ones that developed it.

Dana said...

Thanks for the continued dialogue on this topic.

For another perspective on this case, please go check out what Robert Rummel-Hudson has to say, here:
http://supportforspecialneeds.com/2012/03/26/the-iceman-cometh-with-his-legal-team/

To the anonymous defender of PRC:
The Vantage Lite actually wouldn't work as well for my daugher. I know this, because I tried it. Speak for Yourself is beautiful in the simplicity of its layout and user-friendliness---both features surpass the Vantage Lite.

As far as claiming that the free trainings are what gave SfY the ideas for the app . . . well, I guess they'll have to prove that in court. And I think they'll have a hell of a time doing it.

r0adkll said...

Roh Roh Fight Duh Powah!!!

TheGeek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheGeek said...

Hi!

Sorry for the deleted comment. Had a auto correct spelling glitch. ><;

Not going to get into the legal ease part of this. First off you should be aware since this is an ipad app that if the app is pulled from the app store it's pulled from your ipad. Apple reserves the rights to do this. As such I recommend you look into how to jailbreak and root your ipads. That way you can lock apple out of the ipad, but you'll loose the apple market. Do this on your daughter's ipad only, then back up the voice app!

Secondly my mother was a special ed teacher and I'm an electrical engineer. One of her students had one of the top of the line Dynavox devices (from 3 years ago). I have gotta tell you I'm unimpressed. The devices are bulky and based on obsolete tech. The ones I've worked with have passive matrix LCD's, are based on resistive touchscreens (meaning you have to smash the screen to get them to work), and had proprietary connectors (damage that power cord at your own risk).

At my mother's request I started looking for alternatives for her student after her Dynavox failed for the second time. I found a few open source Ipad / Iphone apps that fit the bill nicely. Now this was three years ago, but these apps should have improved in the interim.

Check out this page:
http://www.oatsoft.org/

Uran said...

I would go after these companies in the court of law for viloating your daughters basic human rights. I wish you and your daughter the best of luck

Anonymous said...

FYI, the USPTO cannot simply outlaw certain subject matter (like software patents). It has only a limited amount of latitude within the statutes (written by Congress) and the legal interpretation of those statutes (by the Supreme Court). Outlawing software patents or business method patents or anything else would require an act of Congress. Unfortunately, such a bright line rule would be difficult to enforce b/c there are fuzzy boundaries in a lot of technologies. And, there would be Constitutional challenges.

Further, the "formula" argument (e.g., Prometheus) can only go so far. *All* patented inventions fundamentally rely on natural laws and formulas... that is, science. But, we can recognize that there is something new or novel about the cotton gin... Where to draw the line is pretty hard, when you realize that it has to be a general rule (in the statute) that applies to all situations.

Jonathan E-W said...

Readers: Donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Author: Good luck and hang in there.

david said...

This is completely unrelated to the post which I found via an article on slashdot.org. I have a niece who bears both a physical resemblance and has symptoms similar to Maya. My niece has a genetic disorder called William Syndrome ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002105/ ).

Anonymous said...

I've met the heads of both SMS and PRC. The head of SMS did little but talk about the importance of patents.

I wish you luck, I really hope you and other users don't become the loser in this case.

Anonymous said...

Dana - my tech brother actually came across your post on a website where advocates of opensource programming rage against excessive patenting. Check out slashdot.org for their discussion. The suggestion I liked they most was to hire a programmer overseas to write exactly what you want and hopefully maintain it. Then you have unfettered use.
I'm having a similar angst about Dynavox. It's outrageous you can't buy their software to run on a touchscreen PC without buying their heavy VMax hardware for $10,000. And with our little ones, there's really no guarantee that they'll take to the system, no matter how long you can trial it (we get 2 weeks here!). Like you need this headache on top of all the other care you provide to Maya. Ugh. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

As much as dislike what is going on, maybe they could open source the software before its too late and hope that someone could pick it up and run with it.

Anonymous said...

I did a search of the iTunes App Store using the string text to speech... Not sure if this is what you are using, but in all reality these idios who would stop your lovely daughter from speaking are nuts and could cause such a backlash in their brand, as bad as patent trolls....

Anonymous said...

You've made it onto Reddit. Hopefully this story goes viral! It also may help to post in the Reddit topic and stuff too: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/rfyb0/patents_threaten_to_silence_a_little_girl/

Crystal said...

I sincerely hope that your story and cause get out there and you win this. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I cannot even imagine what I would do if my daughter's voice was being silenced over money. The state of the world these days sickens me. I saw a lot of people mentioning change.org petitions. That would be a good place to start, in my opinion. I've seen a lot of good come from that site's petitions. Good luck to you and to your family and Maya. If there is ANYONE I can email or any way for me to help get the word out please contact me and let me know. I'll probably post your story to my own blog, it's a discounts and deals site but I think I'll start a new section, of causes I care about.

RaeLeah Jenis said...

From reading previous postings, I was given hope that at some point my daughter will have a voice through the app Maya uses. She is 18 months and has many developmental delays. We hope for the best, but I am also looking at options for later. I pray that they won't silence Maya's voice.

Anonymous said...

This is just plain sad that a corp would do this. So maybe someone should alert Symantec about Semantic and the brand confusion. I'm damn sure Symantec would be glad to eat Semantic company alive for infringing on a similar sounding name. Monster Cable does this all the time!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I don't know what to say. I remember the release of that app, and promptly saw, on my newsfeed from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) that PRC had nothing to do with the app (as a warning).

I feel for you and for Maya. Finally, a way to communicate. And you can afford it.

Unfortunately, there are many, many kids out there who also need a way to communicate and who CAN'T afford an iPad and an app. They rely on Medicaid to fund the devices they will use. And Medicaid (as well as some insurance companies) won't fund iPads (this is not new -- they also refuse to fund laptop computers, tablets, etc.).

The device makers are out to make a profit, for sure. But they also are working to get communication into the hands of as many people as they can. I don't see them as evil. Misguided, behind the times, perhaps not quite able to catch up with the rapid progression of iDevice technology as a means of communication. But not evil.

I'm really hoping some wise judge will force both their hands -- the hands of the developer who CLEARLY modeled the app on PRC's Unity language system as well as the hands of PRC and SCS, who really need to move forward with iDevice technology. Somewhere, there has to be a happy middle ground. A ground where Maya has a voice, but where all those kids needing Medicaid also get a voice!

Fingers crossed from an SLP with a stake (and a foot) in both camps.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time for the Open Source community to distribute an app that's as good for Android. When it's posted anonymously and given away free and easy to download and install, who are they going to sue for patent infringement? It could make their entire business model obsolete.

StiX said...

This is terrible! I am starting open source project to harm that shameless business. Any icon designer help will be appreciated

Anonymous said...

As I read above in the comments, I reiterate- just in case the greedy company with the greedy lawyers wins, jailbreak that iPad (the one made by Chinese slaves from that other greedy company), download iTunes to a cheap pc and backup the software. Then disconnect both from the internet forever! You'll at least have it for your daughter. We can all keep working on keeping the software available for everyone... but in the meantime- jailbreak!

Anonymous said...

Check out the Android OS, it's a better OS, they might have something similar that works as good or better. Most thing are better with Android.

Astaryth said...

Poor Maya... it is sad that this is happening, but have you considered doing something -not- technical that can NOT be taken away? I'm thinking ASL. It is a language (and yes, it is considered an actual language) used by the deaf. It is a language using signs instead of words. Many people use it with babies to help them communicate before they are verbal. Maybe this could help Maya? There are sites on the internet to learn it for free, often with little videos so you can see the sign 'performed'. I believe there is even an app for that LOL! I know it is not a perfect solution, but it could help you with communication at least between her and you AND it doesn't depend on anything electronic that can be lost or misplaced!!

The Wandering Author said...

I just found this post. And the legal issues, the technical issues, all that are really irrelevant.

What matters is that Maya have a way to communicate. The right way, for her. I realised in 2010 that I have Aspergers, or perhaps "high functioning" autism. I'm self-diagnosed, as many aspies of my age are. I can talk, in fact I'm hyperlexic - but there are things I can't say. There's a "glass wall" that keeps me from saying them. But I can always communicate with a page or screen. An inability to communicate is horrible - when I read of kids who can't talk or communicate in some way, it haunts me, because I know to some very small extent what they're going through.

If that app is what works for Maya, she needs it. As you've already found, it isn't what experts say or how much you pay, but what works. If that works for her, then she's got to have it. If you can't learn the tech skills you need (and, sorry, I'm a Windows / Linux person, so I can't help), get a friend to help. But back that app up, several places, so no matter what happens, you can always reinstall it. That's what is really important.

I happen to think you have a perfect right to state your opinion, and I hope the app stays available. But those things are minor issues, compared to the big one.

Colortini said...

File an amicus brief with the court of jurisdiction supporting the app maker. Ask organizations such as the CEC and AAIDD to do likewise. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

JustNiz,

Yes the iOS market place has an app kill switch but name an app that it has been used on. There have been several apps pulled from the store or removed by the poster but if you previously downloaded that app and backup your device then you can keep it. I actually own 3 such apps, though I don't use them anymore. Remember that when a company sells a product the real power is in the hands of the consumers who choose we're their money goes. This is besides the fact that comparing digital products to physical ones is a poor thought experiment.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad that a little girl is losing her voice. A parent buying an app has an expectation that the people who made and sold it had the right to do so. I hope thee is some resolution that lets her keep her voice.
But, I can see the point of the lawsuit. As soon as I saw the app operating, I could see the similarities between Minspeak/Unity and this app. Minspeak/Unity are communication programs designed by the companies that are suing. (and, far from what people think, all of the companies involved are small work owned companies).
The Pixon icons that form the basis of the communication app were developed by the people who are suing. As far as I know, they don't license the Pixons, although they do sell kits for people to make individual communication boards (basically, low tech, paper boards). This is one of their kits -
http://www.minspeak.com/teachers/documents/AboutPixons.pdf
apparently, according to the lawsuit, the developers of the app went to one of the training sessions and used the materials they got there to develop their app.
So, the allegation is that they developed their app using things that we not theirs to use. Probably not intending or knowing, but still not theirs to use.

Dana said...

A few more things:

1. She does not have Williams Syndrome.

2. She does know some sign language, but has fine motor delays and dexterity issues that make communicating with ASL an impossibility. Also, if she speaks ASL, the only people who will understand her are other people who speak ASL. She should be able to talk to the world!

3. I'm going to try to learn about this jailbreaking stuff.

4. I also do not want to see PRC fail. I agree that they are not evil as much as misguided, and I think that their devices meet the needs of many users. But I also feel that there are users whose needs are unmatched by the large devices (like Maya) who need and deserve something different.

5. Yes, SfY had was licensed to use the Pixon symbols. (Although if you check out the app most of the language is Smarty symbols, which I actually prefer for clarity's sake.)

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - As of now there are no Android apps that can even come close to the AAC apps that are available for iOS devices. I have an Android phone, and love it, but there are certain things that Apple dominates. AAC apps is one of them.

William Carr said...

"JustNiz said...
She is misidrecting the blame to a company enforcing their copyright when the fault is Apple's.
I'm continually amazed how even after something like this people refuse to understand that when you choose Apple products or buy stuff through their store you are actually just renting what you actually thought you'd bought, and you've given up your rights because they control the device and everything on it not you."

There are, astonishingly enough, some fringe lunatics that hate Apple and seem to blame them for everything possible.

This case isn't even the worst I've seen. JustNiz thinks it's Apple's fault there's a dispute between two software vendors.

WhattaNut !

The ideal outcome here is that the party of the first part buy out the party of the second part and make the iPad app their primary focus.

But it sounds like they want to own the whole shebang so they can charge your medical insurance $,$$$ for a dedicated medical device.

It doesn't speak well of them.

And since there's Prior Art on this...

Remember those pull-string toys we had as children? Point the arrow at the picture of the Giraffe, pull the string, and you hear "this is a Giraffe".

The app you're using is the 21st Century Version.

The good news is that everybody who has tried to duplicate the iPad has failed to capture the imagination of the public.

Eventually the fools trying to make a hardware version will realize they're goose is cooked.

I hear even Microsoft is using iPads now.

Oh, and by the way... Apple does have an emergency kill switch, but they've NEVER USED IT.

It's there in case someone slips a trojan horse app past the screeners, so they can shut it down before it destroys the iPad of the person who downloaded the app.

August Branchesi said...

Apple is not going to delete this from your device. They will simply remove it from the store and not allow you to redownload it. As long as you sync with iTunes a copy will be on your computer.

Apple has never remotely deleted a file due to a trademark/patent dispute. The android fanboys telling you otherwise in this blog are dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the app has now been updated with the Pixon icons removed and replaced with Smarty Pants symbols.

That makes me think the originators of the app thought they had the right to use them, but now realized they don't.
That might be the start of a compromise that will settle the suit.

Dana said...

Anonymous-It's my impression that Speak for Yourself has a license for the Pixon symbols that has not yet expired. I'm not sure why they're switching to all Smarty symbols now . . .but I guess if I was in their shoes I would be ready to cut all ties (even just the appearance of them) with PRC/SCS as well.

I'm slightly dreading springing the switch on Maya, but the Pixons were only on the main page, and I think the Smarty symbols are more intuitive. I just wish it had been all Smarty to start with.

Anonymous said...

Apple may not remotely remove it from devices unless the plantiff is granted a court order requiring them to do so. The advantage of Android devices (unless the functionality has been disabled by the manufacturer of the particular brand) is that you have the option to install apps from outside the market that Google will not attempt to remove for the simple fact that they do not know it is installed. You have to jailbreak the iPad in order to do this. With most Android devices, this functionality is built in.

Anonymous said...

I am a preschool SLP. I stumbled across your blog and do not have a lot of background knowledge on your whole situation. I just wanted to offer an idea for you. Have you tried proloquoto2go. I was looking over your app and thought that this app might work very similiar. They key is to get it set up to work for your daughter. You need a good SLP that can do this. An slp friend of mine just set my proloquo2go similiar to this. I love it. Let me know if you need any suggestions. Best of luck. So glad your daughter found her voice. If she is proficient with this AT device she's going to shine if she has to change. Very unfair.:(

Dana said...

We tried Proloquo2Go first---I feel like it's very cumbersome for a young child. Either:

1. You completely customize the boards in it, which can work but isn't a long term solution, since words would keep moving as you add new vocab. Or . . .

2. You try to use as it, but it doesn't work well to support the modeling of good grammatical structure. And Maya would need to learn many categories to find a word like "waffle."

I tried approach #1 (I even have a youtube video about how to set it up for a nonverbal toddler) but got frustrated with it's cumbersomeness.

SfY is much more comprehensive and intuitive, for us anyway.

Jose_X said...

(cont)
_______
Here is a challenge to swpat supporters.

Explain why a patent on a software story (aka, protection of ideas and techniques of a software app) downloaded into your "e-book" (aka, into your computer) is supposed to promote the progress, while we (Congress, the SCOTUS, researchers, and practitioners) know that a patent on a (non-)fiction story downloaded into your e-book does not promote the progress of such downloadable stories?

In other words, what argument can you use to argue that a patent on software (which humans experience and make use of through a standard multimedia environment) helps the software art while a patent on writing (which humans experience generally through standard books and reading devices) does not help the fiction and non-fiction arts?

I.e., in what way would a patent on utility and aesthetics written into existence via software help that industry while a similar patent on utility and aesthetics written into existence via the vernacular would not lead to better writing/music/etc?

Put simply: We don't allow people to own ideas and methods in stories because that would cause lots of damage, so why should we allow people to own ideas and methods in software yet expect different results?

*****

As suggested in earlier comments, a key reason behind the broad powers of a patent, as captured in early patent law by those who were around when the Constitution was crafted, is that it is supposed to promote the creation of a new machine. Patents were not created to promote better or more advanced writing. SCOTUS and many others have always recognized that protection for written works and other expressions of intellect ends at the expression level and does not carry to the idea level. We have copyright and trade secrets for the abstract/intellectual components of new written creations or even no protection at all (as is true for matters of truth, such as mathematics). Broad patent protections (especially at the established super low inventiveness bar) are for things that go beyond great ideas and great expressions. It is for physical machines and devices that do not already exist, so need to be manufactured, and differs from the prior art in ways beyond merely the "story" that is etched within it.

I think Red Hat has missed points of arguments in past briefs I have read. I hope it's not too risky for them to adopt a more aggressive position on how patents should never apply to writing (ie, to "processes" that merely add intellectual/abstract information onto otherwise unpatentable hardware). To accept software patents would be to accept stifling and abridgement in a particular form of writing. The "content" of writing is "abstract" by its nature, and etching the words onto a machine does not create a patentable machine as per those etched words.. at least not if we hope to promote the progress, recognizing that similarly restrictions placed on any other form of writing would not promote the art in those other writings. If the entire novelty comes from those etched words, we would be stifling the progress in those machines by stifling the progress in those etched words.

[BTW, I am not comfortable with Diehr to the extent the novelty does not arise via some new physical creation to make possible that process. I would want the SCOTUS to revisit and clarify that past ruling.]
_______

Jose_X said...

The lawsuit is attempting to silence someone in a non-replaceable way using laws not intended to be used for that purpose and against the First Amendment to USConst.

May I suggest that the parents, perhaps with coordination from Speak for Yourself, start a petition on change.org or some other site in order to get popular support. This has a good chance of solving your immediate problem (which also is afflicting other children and adults) at minimal costs.

I agree with the other comments denouncing software patents. A clear end to swpats would make a big difference to a lot of people and small businesses out there whose costs and access have been made worse, frequently without them realizing why.

To end, I'll quote a comment I wrote today expressing some of my views on swpat (as posted at http://opensource.com/law/12/3/prometheus-bound-important-precedent-next-software-patent-case ). We need to remember that patents exist allegedly only in order to "promote the progress" as claimed in the US Constitution. They don't do that (as backed by repeated claims by many software developers and by formal research), and the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly stated dissatisfaction with "software" patents it has looked at; however, patent lawyers and their too greedy clients continue to play with the language of patent claims to try to skirt the SCOTUS (who have been less than crystal clear) and harass patent examiners, first, and then software developers and even users. Even independent/original software development created for the public's free use (FOSS) is being attacked because patents are so easy to get granted on broad "non-obvious" ideas. There is no room in a healthy society for this garbage. Unfortunately, it gets worse by the year, thanks in a large part to Apple, Microsoft, and other large software firms and the legions of "patent trolls" buying their patents to sue others.

Good luck with this case. There really should be zero reason for you to stop using that application or for Speak For Yourself to stop distributing it.

Jose_X said...

I should have been more precise.

The petition should be written to appeal to ordinary folks out there who would sympathize and "sign" it. The official recipients should be the suing companies and anyone else harassing you or Speak For Yourself. Also, I would target the representatives in Congress of those signing as well as the reps of the home states of these corporations suing. You want to get the attention of lawmakers making these laws which are hurting "small" constituents while benefiting the very large and wealthy. [I think that is how these petitions work.. so that anyone signing it is effectively sending an email to their own reps as well as to those others mentioned above.] You should also target the Patent and Trademark Office and perhaps the White House itself (since the PTO is an executive branch agency).

Then promote the petition, and it might get picked up by sympathizers who would promote it as well.

If you want help or advice putting this together, write up a blog piece stating your intentions and asking for help. I think people want to know what kind of company they are supporting with their dollars.

My Kid Matters said...

I'm really disappointed at the hate you are sending to PRC. I have dealt with them for years. My kid talks with his toe and nobody, even me, would have ever thought he could do it. EXCEPT Bruce Baker and PRC who made it a reality.

Is this a trial by social media? How much of your info comes from the Speak For Yourself people?
I bet a lot, because what you are saying isn't true.
Who did you write to at PRC, because when I've asked about an app they've just told me they can't reveal product plans. That doesn't say no--just that it isn't any of my business yet. Why don't you post the letter you received?

You say that your daughter will lose the app. How exactly would that happen? Does somebody come through the clouds and remove it from her iPad in the middle of the night?
You say that this lawsuit will remove all vocabulary apps. How could that possible be true?

If you kill PRC you will have a lot on your head for all of the rest of us who desperately need all the language and support systems they give us.

Dana said...

Hi My Kid Matters,

I think you are new to this blog. I'm going to respond to the points in your post line by line:

"I'm really disappointed at the hate you are sending to PRC."

I am not sending hate to PRC. I respect them for the amazing work and products that they have developed. I wrote an entire post about the movie "Only God Could Hear Me," I declared that an app wouldn't be good enough for us-we would need a designated speech device, and I think that the technology (eye gaze, etc) that they use is truly a godsend to many, many families.

"My kid talks with his toe and nobody, even me, would have ever thought he could do it."

I'm really happy that you were able to find a communication solution for your child, brought to you by PRC. I'm also really happy for me that I was able to find a communication solution for my child, brought to me by Speak for Yourself.

"Is this a trial by social media?"

Nope, this is a blog post by a mom who doesn't want her kid's "device" to no longer be available.

"How much of your info comes from the Speak For Yourself people?
I bet a lot, because what you are saying isn't true."

You are betting incorrectly.


"Who did you write to at PRC, because when I've asked about an app they've just told me they can't reveal product plans. That doesn't say no--just that it isn't any of my business yet. Why don't you post the letter you received?"

I don't write letters. I sent emails & tweets to folks in the field, months ago, when I was trying to decide about what device or app could fit Maya. I didn't save any of the responses, because really--why would I? The person from PRC that I spoke with was my local rep. Back then the company line wasn't "we don't reveal product plans" it was "I don't know of any plans that we have to enter the iPad market" (aside from the small core word app that was put in the iTunes store a while back).


"You say that your daughter will lose the app. How exactly would that happen? Does somebody come through the clouds and remove it from her iPad in the middle of the night?"

Apple can remotely remove apps, similar to the way that your iPad will alert you to updates without you searching for them. There is some debate as to whether this could be a court-ordered action. I have no idea, because I'm not a tech guru.


"You say that this lawsuit will remove all vocabulary apps. How could that possible be true?"

No, I have not said that. Ever.


"If you kill PRC you will have a lot on your head for all of the rest of us who desperately need all the language and support systems they give us."

I don't know why you're coming at me with such animosity. I think that PRC is a great company who has done a lot of good, and can't imagine how my blog post could somehow tear them down. I think that they should continue to serve the population that can benefit from their devices, and I think that Speak for Yourself should continue to serve the population that can benefit from their app.

And I think that there's no need for such hate. Clearly, "your kid matters" and I'm happy that you hae a device that works for you guys---but my kid matters too, and I'm happy that we have an app that works for us.

bureado said...

Thanks for sharing. I'd be really interested in knowing if there was any kind of open source code or licensing involved in this issue?

My Kid Matters said...

I think anytime you accuse a company of making money at the expense of fulfilling its mission, you are spreading hate. But this isw a clever way for your friendes at Speak for Yourself to cover over the fact they they took somebody else's property to sell themselves. Maybe I should do a blog called Uncommonly Sensible, and, since my kid isn't particularly cute, ecspt to me, I'll just use your pix of Maya.

Anonymous said...

To My Kid Matters, snarky comments don't help anyone.But you see how vehemently you respond in fear of your child's communication device taken away.Maybe Dana just feels the same way.She's saying no company should be able to do that!!If one company is infringing on another, than fix it, don't make the child suffer!!I don't think anyone would knowingly buy an app thinking it was illegal.

Dana said...

This is a quote from our story on the TIME magazine website, which came out this morning:

Nieder, for her part, is careful not to paint Prentke Romich as the villain.

"I feel bad saying anything, because they’re a great company and they’ve done great things for so many people,” she says. “I just want everyone to be able to able to do what they’re doing. I want Prentke Romich to continue to be successful with their devices and I want Speak for Yourself to be able to leave the app the way it is. They’re both fulfilling the needs of people who really need it.”
----------

My Kid Matters, you seem pretty determined not to listen to my points with an open mind, but I trust that others who have read this far can see that I'm not out to do anything besides protect my daughter's method of communicating.

Also, thanks for calling her cute. I think so, too :)

(The entire piece in TIME can be found here: http://techland.time.com/2012/04/04/a-little-girl-finds-her-voice-thanks-to-threatened-new-ipad-app/)

Alex Cohn said...

Diana, I believe that a patent settlement does not necessarily mean killing the SfY iPad app.

Often, the parties find compromises which include license fees - I think that in this case, since the app is not in the $1 category, they can pay per item sold. It is usually wise for both parties to settle outside the court - it's cheaper and the details of an agreement may be kept private.

On the other hand, patent lawyers and court proceedings are very expensive, therefore sometimes a big corp with deep pockets can crash a small competitor simply by attrition. If this becomes the case, public support can bring the necessary money.

Finally, if the issue arrives to court, and the court decides that violation of a patent really took place, they may find it enough for the violator to pay some reasonable compensation, without discontinuing their service. I believe that a public campaign may be instrumental in making such outcome possible.

Patent and Trademark Attorneys said...

There are things that usually comes into our minds..hit other peoples thoughts...so simple to understand yet so hard to do in actions.

Anonymous said...

This is a bullshit patent if I ever saw one. "Dynamic keyboard"? That's totally obvious and it's hard to believe that it's something that you'd sink in dozens of years of R&D into.

Bongo Speech said...

I'm an SLP & I'm just now running into this information- I saw it posted on App Advice. I like this app & I hope they can settle this without too much mudslinging. i work with a number of kids on devices & I really like Sonoflex. It ' s set up nicely with core vocab to work on sentence structure. the placement of the icons is not as stable as S4Y, and it does rely on scrolling which can be kind of slow, but some of my kids have done great with it. I thinks it really, really nice for developing language and I believe it's about 100$.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely dislike software patents, but Dana should also be directing some anger at the developer of that app.
It's a can of worms and a real public benefit does not exclude anyone from avoiding licensing fees or even negotiations.

Dana is unfortunately stuck in-between a licensing disagreement.
Looking at some of the patents claimed to be violated and it's hard to see how the developer can actually claim innocence, some are broad and clearly cover the features listed for that app.

They should be instead focusing on why software patents are rubbish and hindering innovation - this would be a good example of this.

vincent mathae said...

what about Grand NAP App

juliangreenfield said...

If Speak For Yourself works for your girl then it will for several other people who cannot speak. It’s a life changing app and shouldn’t be banned in any case.

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1handedtyper said...

We need a nonproprietary set of Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) so that this does not happen anymore. Think of ASL or Braille, new technologies promise to help individuals who use these symbols better and better access to these technologies, why should that be different for AAC users? Although a new set of symbols means current users would have to learn a new set of PCS, we need to think about the future, we need to secure something that cannot be taken away from these users ever again, especially due to greed and corporate profits. PRC has recently changed their hardware to a tablet. It didn't lower the cost! Why? I think we know the answer...I am so sorry for your struggles. As a SLP and AAC specialist for over 17 years, I have spent my professional career supporting individuals and their families acquire and successfully use AAC. There are so many barriers, technology being just the tip of the iceberg. To have found a successful solution and then potentially lose it is the criminal act here.
Respectfully Submitted, Robin Shobe