Google Follows Apple In Unnecessarily Pulling App That Allowed A Little Girl To Speak
from the sad dept
We’ve written a few times about the unfortunate saga of 4-year-old Maya Nieder and her mother, Dana. Due to a ridiculous patent dispute, the one thing that allows Maya to speak — an app called “Speak for Yourself” — may get shut down. Back in June we were disappointed that, despite no request for an injunction, Apple decided to pull the app in question from its iOS store, citing the ongoing lawsuit. Maya can continue to use it for now, but it could go away and they wouldn’t be able to get it back. Many people in our comments suggested that SfY should release an Android app. And they did… but a recent update from Dana notes that Google removed the app from its Play store as well, per the request of Prentke Romich Company & Semantic Compaction Systems (the patent holder and licensee suing SfY). While it’s much easier to install 3rd party apps on Android devices without going through the Play Store, it’s still surprising and disappointing that Google would join Apple in pulling this app before there’s been any official ruling on the matter.
In the meantime, Dana also points out that PRC — who didn’t have an iOS app itself through all of this — has finally released one in the iTunes store. Even though this seems ridiculous — since they were able to shut down the competition and now have a clearer playing field — Dana celebrates this entrance into the market because making more of these apps available can only help speech-challenged people speak. And, in the end, shouldn’t that be the overriding concern?
She also mentions that the two sides met for court-ordered mediation, and asked the court to stay the case for 30 days to continue the process. So there’s some hope for a settlement allowing the SfY app to live on. Either way, it’s yet another example of companies using (often questionable) patents to cause real harm, rather than spreading innovation and helping people.