/// Samsung’s Ill-Conceived Apple VoiceOver Suit Stayed in Germany

February 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Samsung has suffered another setback in its smartphone patent brawl with Apple, this one on the German front, and over a particularly contentious feature: Mobile device accessibility. A Mannheim Regional Court on Friday ordered a stay of a Samsung suit against Apple that alleges the iPhone maker’s VoiceOver screen-access technology violated its patent on display into speech data . The mechanics of this particular spat and the court’s ruling on it are bit too byzantine to dive into here, but it’s worth a look in broad strokes simply as an example of just how low players are willing to stoop in IP battles like the one between Apple and Samsung. So, in short: Samsung holds a patent on a feature that allows devices to read aloud text to their users with the press of a button. The company asserted that patent against Apple’s accessibility features, specifically VoiceOver which is specifically designed for anyone with impaired vision. Caught in the middle: The blind, low-vision users, folks with dyslexia and anyone else who might benefit from having what appears on their computer screen described to them out loud. Yes, this move by Samsung against Apple was a tactical one in a nasty battle in which billions of dollars are at stake. Yes, it’s just business. But it’s ill-conceived. Even leaving aside the ethics of asserting a patent against a feature designed to help the blind, this is unwise. It’s the PR equivalent of punching yourself in the face. Samsung has now identified itself as a company willing to accept the loss of accessibility for the vision-impaired as collateral damage in its battle with Apple. It has made a big public move to make it more difficult for the blind to use computers

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Samsung’s Ill-Conceived Apple VoiceOver Suit Stayed in Germany


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