Podcasters across the US can now breathe easier. Today the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the so-called “podcasting patent.” This patent, owned by a company called Personal Audio LLC (a/k/a the “Podcast Patent Troll”) was used to sue prominent podcaster Adam Carolla–ending with an out-of-court settlement but no payment from Carolla–as well as CBS, which resulted in a Texas jury awarding $1.3 million to Personal Audio.. A suit against NBC was also settled out of court in January.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation mounted the successful challenge of the patent with the USPTO by providing evidence of “prior art,” demonstrating that episodic digital audio content existed prior to Personal Audio obtaining its patent. Examples included Carl Malamud’s “Geek of the Week” online radio program, begun in 1993, and online programs from CNN and the CBC. Personal Audio’s original patent, titled “System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence," was filed in 1996.
EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer, who also holds the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents, said, “We’re glad the Patent Office recognized what we all knew: ‘podcasting’ had been around for many years and this company does not own it.”
“We have a lot to celebrate here,” said EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri. “But unfortunately, our work to protect podcasting is not done. Personal Audio continues to seek patents related to podcasting. We will continue to fight for podcasters, and we hope the Patent Office does not give them any more weapons to shake down small podcasters.”