USPTO Strikes Down Litigious Patent Troll Podcast Patent

Posted by at 2:03 pm on April 12, 2015

USPTO LogoA final ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has invalidated a podcasting patent held by non-practicing entity Personal Audio, ending the company’s bid to cash in on the backs of successful content creators. The EFF originally filed a petition in 2013 to review the serialized media content patent held under patent number US8112504.

Starting this battle, Personal Audio filed a lawsuit for patent infringement against Lotzi Digital and several other parties, including Togi Entertainment and How Stuff Works, in 2013. Podcast host Adam Carolla decided to fight the lawsuit, turning to crowdfunding to fund the battle against the well-known patent troll. Personal Audio has used a patent numerous times in the past to take high-profile providers of episodic content to court, including networks like Fox, CBS and NBC.

Personal Audio offered to dismiss the suit on July 29 of 2014 in a press release, but Carolla continued the fight after crowdfunding nearly $500,000 for his defense. The patent holding company was willing to depart without payment. By putting up a fight, Carolla and Lotzi Digital forced Personal Audio into mounting a defense to show whether it deserved money. In turn, the company discovered that one of the largest podcasters on the Internet makes very little revenue, educating the company that there may not be money in pursuing any other podcasters in the future.

The patent was defeated by several instances of “prior art,” in this case, proto-podcasts from CNN that had “(1) episodes; (2) an updated compilation file; and (3) a ‘predetermined URL’ for the compilation file” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Personal Audio lost its battle with Carolla, but won $1.3 million against CBS, and an undisclosed sum from Samsung. Apple also lost, and paid out $8 million. It is unknown if any money has changed hands in that case. Personal Audio founder Jim Logan claims about the podcast patent that “We designed that, we prototyped it, we went to investors trying to raise money to produce the product, and we were not successful” and is still seeking additional patents on podcast-related software and distribution.

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