The Hearing Blog has discovered that Phonak has just cut off all 7,000 hearing aid dispensers in the United States in their new licensing agreement for their Target 4.0 programming software, required to access the new Venture hearing aids. Our discovery of this comes on top of European financial analysts panning Sonova stock last week because of sales losses to rivals GN ReSound and Starkey due to no “Made for iPhone” (MFi) offering.
Very few people bother to take the time to read the arcane software licensing agreements, as there are many pages of all sorts of esoterica, and the tiny scrollable text window doesn’t allow for resizing or right-click select & copy clipboard operations… So almost everyone just clicks Install and moves on. However, we at The Hearing Blog do the work our hearing care professional colleagues don’t, and we discovered this gem in section 4c:
4. Restrictions on License
You may not, at any time, during or after the Term of this License:
(c) permit other Persons to use the Software, except your employees who are qualified audiologists who are trained in fitting hearing aids and competent to use the Software and who have undertaken to use the Software in accordance with the terms of this License Agreement;
Here are the actual screen shots:
What’s more, Phonak has obfuscated this landmine clause by not providing a copy of the software license in the installation folder, instead embedding it inside the Phonak Target.MSI file.
Furthermore, in Section 2 of the agreement, one cannot just call and get verbal permission to use Target 4.0:
2. License Agreement
This License Agreement is a legally binding contract between you and Phonak. The License Agreement governs the terms and conditions on which you may use the Software.
Only authorized signatories of Phonak may amend this License Agreement and only in writing. Phonak sales and support representatives have no authority to modify this License Agreement, whether in writing or orally. You may not rely on any oral or written statements from such representatives or any other person to modify or interpret your obligations under this License Agreement.
We have forwarded our findings to the Costco legal department and to the Veterans Administration Office of the Inspector General to bring this to their attention, so they can decide how to proceed with their non-audiologist dispenser & technician employees: It appears that use of Phonak Target software by hearing aid dispensers would constitute an ethics breach, putting their State licenses in jeopardy.
You can download a PDF of the Target 4.0 license agreement generated by us at this link~