EFF Helps Bust Bogus Patent That Was Being Used To Shake Down Podcasters

from the nice-work dept

Remember Personal Audio? That's the company that claimed it had a patent (8,112,504) from years ago that covered all podcasting and then sued a bunch of top podcasters over it. The company got itself lots of attention, including from EFF, who filed with the UPSTO to invalidate the patent. In response, Personal Audio tried to intimidate EFF's donors. Eventually, Personal Audio realized that podcasters don't actually make that much money and settled a bunch of its lawsuits -- even with Adam Carolla (which actually does make a bunch of money) who had insisted he wasn't going to settle.

Most of those settlements were for no money, but the company did win its lawsuit against CBS (in Eastern Texas, of course). However, the EFF's initial effort to invalidate the patent at the USPTO (which is a separate process from the lawsuits) has now resulted in the Patent Office invalidating the key claims in the patent. You can read the USPTO's decision, in which it notes that the key parts of the claim were clearly obvious to practitioners skilled in the art at the time of the patent and that the prior art invalidates the patent as well.
We are persuaded by a preponderance of the evidence that Petitioner’s rationale for obviousness is supported by rational underpinnings.
Kudos to the team at EFF, who have been doing some great work on patents lately (contrary to one of our grumpy commenters who insists that the EFF lawyers will never be seen as "serious professionals" by the US Patent Office, and will remain "marginal players at best"). Can't wait to see what patent projects they take on next...
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Filed Under: invalid, obviousness, patents, podcasting, podcasts, prior art
Companies: eff, personal audio

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2015 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Law school / An MBA

    I would go more specific than that. I would say that the problem is the prioritization of short term profits over the long term viability of the company/industry. This is self-destructive, as it leads to decisions being made to make a quick buck at the expense of the long term stability and profitability of a company or even an entire industry. This is compounded by the view that business is a zero-sum game.

    This is seen quite clearly in the recent actions of the MPAA, and other similar industries. Rather than ride the rising tide brought on by digital distribution and streaming over the internet, those in charge at the legacy industries would rather extract a quick profit at the expense of trashing a long term source of revenue that will trump all their expectations. The view of business as being zero sum also leads to the legacy industries trying to shut down emergent distribution channels (if they are profiting, then we must be losing), rather than come to a point that is mutually beneficial.

    The question becomes how do we solve this problem? I don't have any good answers for that.

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