Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prentke Romich Company vs. A Disabled 4 Year Old

My daughter loves to use my iPad.  She's five years old, learning to read and do math, terrifically excited for Kindergarten, and all of the wonderful things that go along with growing up.
Maya Nieder is a three year old who also loves her iPad.  The difference is, Maya uses hers to communicate with the outside world.
Recently, Dana Nieder (of the wonderful Uncommon Sense blog) wrote that the iTunes app her daughter uses to speak has come under attack by another company for copyright infringement.  The "Speak for Yourself" app is the subject of a lawsuit by the Prentke Romich Company (PRC) for violating their patent.
According to the PRC's Google+ website, their hard work has been stolen by former employees who are now making money off it.
At present, PRC has it's own iPad app, but according to Dana, it isn't a good fit for her daughter.  Further, the makers of the SFY app and PRC are already trying to work things out through the court.  However, iTunes has still removed the app from their store, and now there is concern that they will remotely delete it from people who bought it.
So what's the big deal?
Well, to quote Dana, "My daughter cannot speak without this app.  She cannot ask us questions.  She cannot tell us that she’s tired, or that she wants yogurt for lunch. She cannot tell her daddy that she loves him.  
No one should have the power to take this away from her."
Pretty stirring stuff.
So what's a forty-three year old corporation like PRC to do?
Here's my solution, as posted on their Google+ site.  Let me know what you think:

Dear Members of PRC:

With respect to Mr. Baker's work and your company's patent, it is understandable that you seek to protect what you created and own.  That being said, there are families in serious predicaments who are making use of the "Speak for Yourself" app in question for the stability and well-being of their loved ones.
If your company has the resources to defend itself so vigorously in court, why not dedicate some of those resources (deep pockets) to providing an immediate alternate remedy?
There are vast armies of programmers and designers out there right now who would rally to your cause, especially if you threw some greenbacks their way.
Here's my solution:
Announce a contest to see who can take your patented software and create the easiest, most functional app in the shortest amount of time.
Have Dana Nieder and her daughter flown into your corporate headquarters to test drive the winner.
It's a PR win for you, a win for the families in need, and continues to provide a service that there is obviously a market for.
You can do this if you put your minds to it, PRC.

Bernard Schaffer
El Presidente of the Kindle All-Stars

Please support Dana and her family.  I'm not suggesting that PRC doesn't have a right to protect it's property, but I am demanding that human interest take precedence.  Lend your support and spread the word to ensure that Maya always has a voice.

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