Patent Busting Project Wins Victory for Artists and Innovators

San Francisco - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has announced it will revoke an illegitimate patent held by Clear Channel Communications after a campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The patent -- owned by Instant Live, a company formerly owned by Clear Channel, and now owned by Live Nation -- covered a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances. Clear Channel claimed the bogus patent created a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert digital recordings and threatened to sue those who made such recordings. This locked musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocked innovations by others.

However, EFF's investigation found that a company named Telex had in fact developed similar technology more than a year before Clear Channel filed its patent request. EFF -- in conjunction with patent attorney Theodore C. McCullough and with the help of Lori President and Ashley Bollinger, students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law -- asked the PTO to revoke the patent based on this and other extensive evidence.

"Bogus patents like this one are good examples of what's wrong with the current patent system," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We're glad that the Patent Office was willing to help artists and innovators out from under its shadow."

The Clear Channel patent challenge was part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, aimed at combating the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. The Patent Busting Project seeks to document the threats and fight back by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders.

"The patent system plays a critical role in business and the economy," said McCullough. "Everyone loses if we allow overreaching patent claims to restrict the tremendous benefits of new software and technology development."

For the notice from the Patent Office:

For more on EFF's Patent Busting Project:


Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Theodore C. McCullough
Registered Patent Attorney

[Updated: 3/13/07]

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