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Resolution (PRC & SFY: AAC patent lawsuit)

A short one today, and mostly just some information for those of you who have been following the legal wranglings between the developers of the AAC app Speak for Yourself and the Prentke Romich Company. Both companies released a statement last week:

Semantic Compaction Systems, Inc. (“Semantic”), Prentke Romich Company, Inc. (“PRC”) and Speak for Yourself, LLC (“SFY”) have announced the settlement of the lawsuit and all claims related to the SFY augmentative and alternative communication (“AAC”) software application. In connection with the settlement, Semantic has agreed to grant a non-exclusive license as to two of Semantic’s patents, i.e., U.S. Patent Nos. 5,748,177 and 5,920,303 and certain Semantic copyrights relating to the Minspeak®/Unity® language system for augmentative and alternative communication. As part of the settlement, Semantic and PRC have agreed to withdraw their infringement or take down notices. Under the license, Semantic and PRC will not issue any new infringement or take-down notices to providers associated with the SFY AAC software application. All other terms of the settlement and license are confidential.

So that’s it, I guess.

Fellow AAC parent Dana Nieder writes about this at length on her blog, so there’s not a great deal I can add to what she’s said. Like most legal resolutions, this one is complicated, I guess.

When you start asking “Who won this case?”, there are a lot of grey areas. PRC receives a licensing fee, but they also have to accept a competitor on the market, something that may bite even more acutely now that they’ve got their own AAC app for the iPad. Speak for Yourself has to pay this fee, and perhaps more importantly has to accept the sting of paying said fee for a copyright that they still very much insist they’re not infringing upon, making it more difficult to make that case now. But they get to exist and continue development and sales of their app, which I suppose is really all they were looking to do in the first place.

For those of us who have followed this case, and particularly those of us for whom there is a very large personal element at play, it ultimately feels like a good thing. A very, very good thing. For the time being, I’m just going to leave it at that.

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