Ever hear of Personal Audio? No? It’s a company that claims it owns the patent to this thing called “podcasting” and was demanding that everyone involved in podcasting pay them money. The company even launched a bunch of lawsuits against everyone from CBS and NBC to Apple, Samsung and Adam Corolla.
Personal Audio, which is based in Texas, owns a broad patent for a “System Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence.” Wikipedia lists their patents this way:
The history of Personal Audio began on October 2, 1996, when James Logan, Daniel F. Goessling and Charles G. Call filed patents 6,199,076, “An audio program and message distribution system in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations,” and 7,509,178, “An audio program and message distribution system in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations.” Patent 6,199,076 was granted on March 6, 2001, and 7,509,178 on March 24, 2009. Personal Audio LLC was listed as the assignee.
Got that? Basically, the company says this covers the entire concept of podcasting and anyone who engages in it owes them money. Personal Audio began filing lawsuits years ago, winning a few million here and there. It was just enough to keep the podcasting industry a little nervous.
The good news is that a US federal appeals court has invalidated the so-called “podcasting patent.” From TechCrunch:
A year after taking up the case, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled in favor of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its challenge against podcasting patent troll, Personal Audio. The decision is a massive relief for the vibrant and ever-growing medium, which has been operated under the threat of lawsuit for a number of years.
It’s also part of the EFF’s larger on-going fight against overly broad tech patents. And the organization doesn’t mince words. Daniel Nazer, who has been working closely on the case, is the EFF’s “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents.”