Dear Blind People: You And Your Precious iPhone Accessibility Can Suck It. Love, Samsung

There’s a fine line between protecting your intellectual property and being the worst kind of evil, heartless corporate dickbag on the earth. The fine folks at Samsung have, it would appear, rolled on up to that line and decided fuck it, let’s keep truckin’!

Samsung has suffered a setback in its effort to win an iPhone ban based on a function making its software accessible to blind people.
The South Korean firm had sought an injunction in a German court arguing Apple’s VoiceOver screen-access facility infringed one of its patents.
However, the judge has ordered the case to be suspended pending another ruling that could invalidate Samsung’s claim.
Disability campaigners had expressed concern about the case.
Apple’s VoiceOver function is used by blind and partially-sighted people to hear a description of what the iPhone is showing by touching its screen.
The software covers text and icons including audio descriptions of the battery level and network signal. It also allows the phones to be operated via Braille-based add-ons.
Samsung had argued that Apple had failed to licence a patent it owned which describes pressing a button to make a handset describe its display. The basis for this was that VoiceOver could be switched on by triple-clicking the iPhone’s home button.

Yes, Samsung did seriously just try to take access to smartphones and the world they open up out of the hands of hundreds of millions of blind people. You really did just see that. they’re still trying, in fact. And why? Well…

A statement from Samsung said: “For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products.
“We continue to believe that Apple has infringed our patented mobile technologies, and we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect our intellectual property rights.”

Ok then, so where’s your easy to independently set up and use out of the box screenreader accessibility, Samsung? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

If you so strongly believe that Apple did you wrong, sue them for money and then make a licensing deal. Don’t set the blind back 10 years just because you think you can. We didn’t rip you off and it’s doubtful Apple did either. We’re just taking what we’re given and using it to enrich and in many cases better our lives.

Rarely do I feel sorry for public relations people, but I do today. There’s no way to spin this to make Samsung look good. then again, it doesn’t seem like Samsung cares much about looking good or doing the right thing. It’s all about money, equal access be damned.

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4 comments
  1. Let’s not forget that Apple just did the same thing to Samsung when it sued them over bullshit design patents. Our horrible patent system in the US has created a situation where many large corporations use bullshit patents as a way to “compete” with the competition. A patent on clicking a button to describe a display? Really? What the hell is patentable about clicking a button?

    My point is that this goes deeper than Apple or Samsung and has unfortunately become a common business tactic. In the end the only people that end up losing are the customers.

    1. Absolutely agree. The system is profoundly broken and needs massive reform. And I didn’t write what I wrote because I’m one of those folks who will blindly side with Apple because of Voiceover. There’s plenty about Apple I don’t like. As I said to somebody on Twitter, it doesn’t matter which side is threatening access, it’s just as wrong. Apple is hardly innocent. But in this particular instance, Samsung looks awful.

      1. Meh, its no more awful than Apple winning a billion dollar judgement against Samsung in the US when every other country threw the case out (and the UK even forced Apple to publicly apologize). But that’s just my opinion 🙂

        1. Again, I agree. Almost none of this stuff should be happening at all. But as long as patent offices think the way they do and there are companies and the lawyers they hire willing to abuse the rules, it won’t be getting any better. Apple and Samsung have both been wrong throughout this entire case, at least when we apply common sense. That’s the whole problem.

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