Speak for Yourself, the iPad app that helps children with speech problem to communicate, has been removed from the iOS App Store, thanks to a patent lawsuit filed by Prentke Romich Company and Semantic Compaction Systems. Pennsylvania’s western district court is conducting a hearing on the case between Speak for Yourself’s developers and Prentke Romich.
Here is Speak for Yourself’s stand on the issue: According to an email exchange with Speak for Yourself employees, the developers will continue to challenge to the validity of the PRC/Semantic patents, and defense against the claim that our app infringes on any valid patent- it does not.
Claiming that polysemous symbols, the core of PRC/Semantic patent dispute, are not used in their application, the developers went on to say that the concept was said by the developers to be confusing to many therapists, teachers, and parents, and that Speak for Yourself can more effectively teach individuals to use augmentative or alternative communication.
The SCS Facebook page has a statement saying SCS and PRC filed the patent infringement lawsuit after they reached out to Speak for Yourself’s founders and offered various business solutions, but were refused.
Well, the app has been removed and new users cannot purchase it; but the limited free trial of Speak for Yourself is still available for now. And worst case scenario is that users may be unable to upgrade the app or re-download it if they failed to back up the purchase. Current users should ensure the program is backed up and may even need to avoid OS updates until the patent case is resolved.
Users will now have to look for alternatives, get used to some other tool and wait for the outcome of the hearings.