Patent trolls are the worst. They buy up patents and use their vague wording to sue people they say are infringing on their intellectual property. That’s their sole reason to exist: suing people over their ownership of an idea that they have no interest in using–other than to sue people.
The guys at Pied Piper on HBO’s Silicon Valley ran into one of these despicable people.
One of the worst trolls is a company called Personal Audio LCC which claims it owns all the patents underlying podcasting. It’s had quite a bit of success scaring people into settling cases worth millions of dollars. From Engadget:
Sure enough, internet audio shows were alive and kicking as far back as the early ’90s. But that didn’t stop Personal Audio from filing for a patent that effectively covered all podcasts made after 1996. Upon receiving it in 2012, the company began demanding licensing money from big-name podcasters, such as Adam Carolla, and CNN. By 2014 — the year in which it won a lawsuit against CBS — its podcasting patent had become the scourge of the industry.
The good news? The latest appeal up the chain has squished Personal Audio LLC’s claim on podcasting. Again from Engadget:
These lawsuits have been going on for years, but back in 2015, the core of Personal Audio LLC’s claim — that the organization invented podcasting and that podcasts should have to pay it licensing fees — was invalidated after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stepped in. The EFF showed that podcast-style shows existed well before Personal Audio LLC’s patent.
So that’s the end of it, right? Well, no. Personal Audio LLC could take it to the US Supreme court. But let’s hope now.