It's Over: The Podcast Patent Troll's Patent is Officially And Completely Dead

from the podcast-away,-folks dept

Going back many years now we’ve written about the company Personal Audio, which built itself up as a patent troll for digital audio. Back in 2011, it won a patent lawsuit against Apple over patents on playlists. In 2013, as podcasting was starting to take off, Personal Audio decided that one of its other patents actually covered podcasting as well and sued some top podcasters while threatening many others. EFF stepped in to use the valuable inter partes review process to seek to invalidate the patent, which worked. Though, in the process the company sought to intimidate EFF donors.

While all of this was happening, the company also realized that podcasters don’t make any money, and figured out how to dump its lawsuits against individual podcasters… while still going after large companies like CBS.

After the Patent Office’s appeals board (PTAB) invalidated the patent, Personal Audio went to court to overturn the ruling. Last year, an appeals court rejected that attempt, noting that the PTAB was correct in invalidating the patent. Personal Audio still kept fighting, and asked the Supreme Court to hear it’s appeal.

Thankfully, on Monday, the Supreme Court denied that request, meaning that Personal Audio’s podcasting patent is finally, truly and completely, dead.

Still, the fact that this process took about five years and a ton of time in court should demonstrate just what a drag bogus patents can be on the economy and innovation. It also shows just how valuable a bogus patent can be for the trolls that hold them. Even after Personal Audio realized that all the podcasters it was trying to shakedown had little money to hand out, it still fought to the bitter end in trying to keep the patent alive, knowing that it could successfully get larger media companies to pay up. So this is a victory, but also a demonstration of just how broken the patent system is. Personal Audio did nothing to help podcasts become a thing. It did nothing to help podcasts move forward or become popular. Its only contribution to the podcast world was to wreak havoc on a bunch of podcasters, scaring many of them and costing them a ton of money in legal fees. That’s all a dead weight loss to the economy, that could have gone into making more and better content.

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Companies: eff, personal audio

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Comments on “It's Over: The Podcast Patent Troll's Patent is Officially And Completely Dead”

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Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Reward the shareholders

Wikipedia says “Personal Audio LLC is a Beaumont, Texas-based company that enforces and earns licensing revenue from five patents.”

It takes money to get a patent approved, somtimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, or to buy a patent from someone who already had it approved.

Then comes the business – shaking down those “using” the patent who haven’t “licensed” its use.

The PURPOSE of patents was to allow people to SHARE their cool invention so others could MAKE USE of it, paying some NOMINAL fee, and not have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak.

The result of decades of pandering to the “Intellectual Property” barons (including the copyright ones, the ‘anti-piracy’ ones, the ‘trademark infringement’ kind) is that now we have a government provided monopoly on EXTORTING THE ECONOMY.

You’ve said before there are so many laws on the books, we’re all guilty of something at some time. I suspect that there are so many patents that we are all in violation of one or more of them at one time.

Last time I do anything off of Lifehacker… don’t want to be in violation!

Ehud Gavron
Tucson AZ
ob nit: its, not it’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Reward the shareholders

" I suspect that there are so many patents that we are all in violation of one or more of them at one time."

It’s a problem that no doubt keeps getting worse and worse, with no end in sight. The sheer volume of patents, both active and expired, makes the job of researching every new patent application increasingly harder and more time consuming. Simply put, the patent system does not scale well, and we may already be well past that point of manageable size of the agency’s historical patent catalog.

Perhaps worse yet is that it’s a system that, the bigger it grows, inherently errs on the side of creating bogus patents that should not have been been approved (and will then have to be invalidated against the wishes of hostile patent troll) because the patent examiner failed to find previous patents buried in the deep manure of those Augean Stables we know as the US Patent Office.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No end in sight [was Reward the shareholders]

It’s a problem that no doubt keeps getting worse and worse, with no end in sight.

The 1602 Case of Monopolies (aka Darcy v Allein), along with the 1624 Statute of Monopolies (21 Jac 1 c 3) show that patent abuses have sometimes gone too far.

All that, of course, took place in an era where not that many years later ‘ol Chucky the First would lose his head (literally! — 1649). Thus one might say that in that age there was a general rollback of the royal prerogative.

But still, there may be some slight candle-glimmer scintillating from the farther end of the gloomy tunnel. The abuse may become too much.

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