Patent Wars Get Personal - The Silencing of Maya
Maya is a 4-year-old little girl who has the same bubbly personality of most 4-year-old little girls. However, she has one challenge that has made her the center of a big dispute. Maya cannot speak.
Prentke Romich Company (PRC) and Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS) make devices that are used to help people like Maya speak. These devices cost around $9000, and are not always the best fit for every individual who might need them.
PRC and SCS are suing a small company, Speak for Yourself (SfY) over alleged patented technology. SfY makes an inexpensive iPad app that costs around $300. The app helps speech deprived adults and children to speak. In fact, 4-year-old Maya has a Speak for Yourself app on her iPad, and has been making great progress in her ability to communicate with her parents with this app.
With her Speak for Yourself app Maya has been able to talk to her mother about the weather outside, she has been able to tell her parents what she wants to eat for lunch, and she has been able to spontaneously tell her Daddy that she loves him.
Apple Pulls SfY App
Even though the patent dispute is still undecided, and even though PRC has openly stated that they have no intention of creating any type of inexpensive app using this technology, Apple has decided to pull the app from iTunes. This decision leaves Maya (and anyone else who benefits from SfY, or may benefit from it in the future) without a voice.
Big Company slogans that profess to promote language, ideas and give everyone a voice are not reflected in the actions taken by the same big companies who would pull this app, and possibly others like it, because of alleged patent infringement.
Much of the time we don't pay a lot of attention to patent wars between big corporations. We may go through our daily activities and not care who owns the right to what, as long as our lives don't change. For many, however, the amazing technology that exists today is not merely used for convenience or for fun, but is truly life changing. And when arguments about who owns this life changing technology negatively effect those who need it, business does get personal.
We urge you to consider the fact that big business does change lives. PRC, SCS and Apple are making business decisions that are changing the life of little Maya, not to mention the countless others who are in her shoes.
Please speak up, so that Maya can speak for herself.Sign Maya's PetitionThe Silencing of Maya BlogSpread the Word