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iPad voice app back after patent spat: Mute kids get 'voices' back

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A judge has saved an app that helps disabled children to make themselves understood, ruling that the two warring sides in a patent dispute will have to come to a business agreement.

iPad app Speak For Yourself will return to the App Store, after a year-long patent lawsuit from patent-holder Prentke Romich that has seen the app withdrawn from sale, and left the parents of speech-impaired kids concerned that their children will "lose their voices".

Judge Gary Lancaster of the court of Western Pennsylvania dismissed a claim to ban the iOS app Speak for Yourself permanently, but did accept that the app used two technologies patented by Prentke Romich and said that Speak for Yourself would have to pay a licence fee for them.

The judge ordered Prentke to offer Speak for Yourself a non-exclusive licence for the two patents, which concern a dynamic keyboard of symbols and the ability to redefine these keys respectively.

El Reg understands that Prentke Romich has now issued its own iPad app in the meantime, which will compete directly with Speak for Yourself, though it doesn't seem to be available yet.

Apple removed Speak For Yourself's $299 app from its App Store because it was the subject of a lawsuit, but promised to reinstate it once it was legally allowed to do so. We assume it will be back up shortly.

We spoke to Apple previously about the issue and the firm said it removed all applications with pending lawsuits attached to them as a matter of course.

Blogger Dana Nieder, whose daughter Maya uses the app to talk, said: "We are so relieved that my daughter's app will be safe and protected in the future." ®

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