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Podcasting News: EFF Challenge to Patent Troll Moves Forward

Podcast Survivor

While patent reform is still delayed in the Senate, there was some good news for podcasters fighting a patent troll’s claim. Last October the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a challenge to Personal Audio’s patent, issued in the mid 90s, that it says covers podcasting. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling saying that the EFF has established a “reasonable likelihood” that its challenge will prevail.

The EFF argues that Personal Audio did not invent podcasting because online audio programs existed prior to the company’s patent, filed in 1996. That patent was actually for a service that delivered magazines on cassette tape, which the company claims covers any serialized audio program, whether delivered on tape or online, such as a podcast.

The EFF’s challenge is based on evidence of “prior art,” where serialized audio was distributed online prior to Personal Audio’s patent. These examples include the “Geek of the Week” online radio program founded March 1993, and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The PTAB ruled that the CBC and CNN examples were valid, but rejected the arguments based on “Geek of the Week” because it said that the EFF failed to present documentation that the program was publicized in a sufficiently accessible “printed publication.” The reason why that is important is the EFF needs to demonstrate that Personal Audio could have, at the time, discovered the existence of these programs. The EFF plans to challenge this decision.

However, because the PTAB accepted the CBC and CNN examples the EFF’s challenge of the Personal Audio podcasting patent is moving forward. The proceedings begin July 3, the deadline for Personal Audio to submit its response, and then can go as long as another five months, if necessary.

That means there will be no immediate relief for podcasters like Adam Carolla who are fighting Personal Audio in court. Though, if the Patent Office finds that the patent does not cover podcasting, any court action should become moot.

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2 Responses to Podcasting News: EFF Challenge to Patent Troll Moves Forward

  1. staff April 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    ‘there was some good news for podcasters fighting a patent troll’s claim…’

    All this talk about trolls and so called ‘patent reform’ is just spin control by large infringers and their paid puppets to cover up their theft.

    The patent system now teeters on the brink of lawlessness. Call it what you will…patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to stop or pay”. It’s a pure red herring by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. Their goal is to legalize theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so. To infringers the only patents that are legitimate are their own -if they have any. Meanwhile, the huge multinationals ship more and more US jobs overseas.

    It’s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful -campaign contributors. Our founders: Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others felt so strongly about the rights of inventors that they included inventors rights to their creations and discoveries in the Constitution. They understood the trade off. Inventors are given a limited monopoly and in turn society gets the benefits of their inventions (telephone, computer, airplane, automobile, lighting, etc) into perpetuity and the jobs the commercialization of those inventions bring. For 200 years the patent system has not only fueled the US economy, but the world’s. If we weaken the patent system, we force inventors underground like Stradivarius (anyone know how to make a Stradivarius violin?) and in turn weaken our economy and job creation. Worse yet, we destroy the American dream -the ability to prosper from our ingenuity for the benefit of our families and communities. To kill or weaken the patent system is to kill all our futures. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I’ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. If we cannot own the product of our minds or labors, what can we be said to truly own. Life and liberty are fundamentally tied to and in fact based on property rights. Our very lives are inseparably tied to our property.

    Prior to the Supreme Court case eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the eBay decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back into the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all patentees, large and small.

    Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

    For the truth about trolls and so-called patent reform, please see

  2. Michael April 24, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    That is all a bunch of nonsense from word one.

    If property rights are really what you’re interested in, why no outrage over the very idea of patents?

    Let us see if we can dispel this once and for all by simply tracing the chain of ownership of, let’s make it simple, a piece of metal wire. Let’s pretend that springs haven’t been invented yet, and a million people own metal wire used for other purposes.

    Now you come along and invent the spring by coiling up a metal wire and sending a picture of it to the patent office. They grant ownership of the patent to you. This amounts to them transferring something that they do not own, which is a partial ownership of the property owned by all the other million people with metal wire.

    And why is this important? Because if property rights matter to you, what about the guy who wishes to sell slinky’s, only to find out that someone else owns that property. Did the guy who wishes to make and sell slinky’s transfer his right to make springs to the Patent Office? No? What about the other million people with metal wire? No? Then how can the Patent Office property grant such a right to you? And now if I want to make moon shoes with springs in them, I need to get your permission? Even though I’m dealing exclusively with my property, my shoes and metal wire?

    The concept is ridiculous on its face.

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