In The Patent Battle Over Speech Devices, The Real 'Irreparable Harm' Is A Child Losing Her Only Voice
from the irreparable-indeed dept
We’ve written a few times now about a horrifying patent dispute that literally threatens to silence a little girl. It involves an iPad app, called Speak for Yourself (SfY) that another company claims infringes on the patent it licensed. Prentke Romich Company (who makes come competing products, but not iPad software) and Semantic Compaction Systems (who licensed the patent to PRC) have been arguing that SfY infringes, and have even convinced Apple to remove the app from the App Store, despite no ruling in the case.
SfY had made a filing with the court, arguing that keeping its app out of the App Store was causing irreparable harm, while PRC/SCS has argued that there is no irreparable harm. But now, three children who are actual SfY users are apparently trying to intervene in the case to argue that having the app shut down represents irreparable harm to them, and thus the app should be put back for now.
If Speak for Yourself ceases to function when the iPad’s operating system is updated this fall, and Maya and Robert are suddenly left unable to communicate . . . that will be irreparable harm.
The panic, confusion, frustration, and sadness of these children as they tap their touchscreens, trying to open their “talkers,” and are met with blank screens . . . that will be irreparable harm.
It is definitely odd to see the users of a technology seek to intervene in a patent case like this, and if I had to guess, I’d say it’s not actually going to work (and could possibly even backfire). But, at the very least, it should make the judge aware that there are more issues at stake here than just two organizations fighting over patents.