Asshole Samsung

John Paczkowski at AllThingsD:

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.

Foss Patents:

I still believe it’s the wrong thing to assert an accessibility-related patent in a dispute like this one. Samsung didn’t assert this German patent in an effort to protect its investment in accessibility. It elected to use an accessibility-related patent as a tactical weapon. Patent protection and enforcement can be justified in certain scenarios. For example, if there are two companies competing in the market for hearing aids, it’s generally legitimate for them to assert accessibility-related patents against each other. I would also support the idea of accessibility patent enforcement in cases of willful infringement, and if Samsung had only requested monetary compensation in this action, it would have made a much better choice than by trying to achieve, through the pursuit of an injunction, the deactivation or (more realistically) degradation of the voiceover functionality Apple provides to its German customers.

Maybe Samsung can find features that help people with other disabilities to attack next.

  • Steven Fisher

    Yes, they’re assholes.Samsung has realized something important:

    You can do no wrong with Apple haters, as long as the target is Apple. There’s enough Apple haters for this to be a profitable move for them.

    • …makes you wonder why there’s so many Apple haters

      • SSShu

        Because people don’t follow up on “facts” thats on headlines. Or are too lazy to.

      • Steven Fisher

        Because hate is the easiest thing to spread, as you know.

    • Steve Jobs: “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this”

      That sounds pretty hateful to me…

  • I don’t know any more than what you pasted above but based on that…wow! That’s ridiculously dumb!

  • lol, sucks when you’re the one getting sued eh?

    • Normally I’d agree but this just doesn’t feel right.

      If they own the patent and it isn’t FRAND, I’m barely ok with them seeking a license deal but not to the point of forcing them to remove the feature(s).

  • DanPierce

    If Samsung has implemented accessibility features as well as Apple has on iOS than I have no problem with this.

    But it has been my impression that no one has done it as well as Apple, especially Samsung, so this is a dick move by Samsung.

    • Android has pretty detailed settings for accessibility.

      • DanPierce

        But are the accessibility features well implemented?

        • I’ve only read up on how to implement some and saw a few videos on them but I have no idea what would be considered great.

          I just played with it on jelly bean (has been a while since the above tests) and it is pretty great from what I can tell. Talk Back alone seems highly useful.

          But…I don’t know this area so I can’t be a judge of whether it is worse, on par, or better than iOS. I can only say it is there and works well from what I know.

          • Mr. Bee

            Well, the whole point of accessibility features is that they are accessible to the disabled. If you have to “read up on them” or figure out how to implement them, then they aren’t actually accessibility features to begin with.

          • Way off there Mr. Bee. I read up on them from a developer standpoint to answer: “How can I implement better accessibility?” All devs must do this. I remember Marco talking about how he had to do specific things for Instapaper.

          • Steven Fisher

            Yup. I blindfolded myself. I realize that’s not a great way to test, as I’m at least somewhat familiar with my application, but it was the best thing I could do easily.

          • Yeah, that’s a good one. Aside from having someone readily available to try it out like that, it is hard to test.

          • Steven Fisher

            For the record, I was surprised at how many small things i had to fix. But also at how simple they were.

            Still, if I hadn’t tested it, it would have been a mess.

          • Yeah, very tedious but well worth it.


    accessibility is required by law how can same government then give out a patent (think monopoly) on it without making it a SEP patent.

  • chjode

    Even if Samsung does own a patent on text-to-speech, computers have been doing it for decades (personally, I first saw it in ~1985 or so), so that should invalidate the patent.

  • Ouch. And Apple’s the “evil” one because…?

  • Wait… and VoiceOver has been on the Mac since… when? Before the iPhone existed, I believe? Oh…

    So Apple pretty much ported the technology they had implemented on their computers (because, you know, it would continue to make sense to have such feature on a phone) and now Samsung whines and cries like a bitch because it’s on iPhones?


    • The problem with patents, Apple’s included, is they are for a certain type of device. Voice over on PC is not the same as on a mobile device.

      Apple has numerous patents specific to a device with prior art on PCs. The system is just weird.

  • And there I was thinking Samsung couldn’t stoop any lower.

  • Wait, so if you invent something that benefits handicapped people, patents don’t apply anymore and anyone can make a profit with your invention, or else you’re an asshole?…

    • Hrmm…good point. I think it is more about it being common.

      Great point though.

    • Actually that’s not what the quoted articles take exception with. Seeking an injunction is the dick move. Monetary damages may be ok but not an injunction.

      • I fail to see how an injunction is less okay than monetary damages, if you make a great product for handicapped people and want to keep it exclusive. Anyone else is free to come up with a better solution, making competition great for handicapped people too.

        • SSShu

          Far as i can understand… With an injunction – they would need to pull the functionality off the devices and/or not sell the devices at all. This would be a setback for people who rely on these features. But with monetary damage – apple can just foot the bill for it and be done with it.

          If this gets any more notoriety – Samsung will be known as the company that tried to… say… take a blind person’s walking stick away (instead of charging the manufacturer of the walking stick some extra cash)

  • Tvaddic

    To be fair Samsung runs a business, they are going to come with everything they have. Did anyone expect them to just accept getting sued by Apple?

    • Steven Fisher

      No. Personally, I expected them to do something new rather than re-tread.

  • Jörg

    I hope, Samsung will implode on Mars very soon.

  • Did Samsung invent anything here, or did they buy the patent off someone else? Frankly if any company buys a patent off the original creator it should be invalid.

    • SSShu

      Probably. And honestly – its more to do with using it as a means to deprive the people the patent was designed for and relying on.

      • Actually, no. Apple can easily pay a licensing fee like they do for other things.

  • W_

    Someone nuke Samsung please!

  • Here is my good Sunday afternoon project – I didn’t have time earlier: I just started, where I propose to simply post of photo of yourself blindfolded. Point being that name & shame will probably do as much as a long court battle.