Updated Statement Regarding Pending Litigation
Posted on June 12, 2012
Last week Prentke Romich Company (PRC) learned that Apple removed a language assistance app from its iTunes® store pending the outcome of a patent infringement lawsuit filed against the company that developed the iPad® app.
PRC and the licensor of the Unity™ system that powers our language devices jointly filed the lawsuit after our patent attorney found numerous instances of infringement on Unity patents in the “Speak for Yourself” app. Apple has a process that allows third parties to provide notice of infringement concerns as part of its terms and conditions. Accordingly, we reached out to Apple on two occasions. We provided Apple with a copy of the lawsuit, expressing our concerns about the “Speak for Yourself” app. We then responded to a later request from Apple asking for an update on the lawsuit. Last week, Apple elected to remove the app.
The Unity system is the result of the long commitment and hard work of Bruce Baker and his company, Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS). His life’s work, which he has refined over decades, created life-changing technology that has given a voice to thousands of individuals with profound disabilities. SCS and PRC filed the patent infringement lawsuit after we reached out to the app company’s founders and offered various business solutions, but were refused.
It is important to emphasize that while there are many useful language apps in the marketplace, “Speak for Yourself” is the only app named in the lawsuit because of its flagrant infringements on Unity patents.
There’s a reason patents are in place, to protect decades of hard work and research that go into our devices. To take someone’s life work and market it as your own is simply wrong. The founders of the company marketing this app are speech-language pathologists who were trained by PRC, and who used their knowledge of the Unity system to develop a Unity-like app of their own and market it in the Apple iTunes store.
We do recognize that new consumer technology, such as tablet-based apps, are playing a useful role in assistive technology, although it is unlikely they will be the best option for all clients. We intend to participate in this space but will only do so in a way that supports the best possible language outcomes for those clients with severe communications disorders.