EFF Files Challenge With Patent Office Against Troll's Podcasting Patent
San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed a formal challenge to the so-called "podcasting patent" used by a patent troll to shake down podcasters big and small for licensing fees. The petition for inter partes review, presented today to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is the first legal filing in EFF's "Save Podcasting" campaign launched in May.
In January 2013, Personal Audio, LLC, began suing a number of podcasters, including comedian Adam Carolla (The Adam Carolla Show) and three major television networks, claiming they infringe U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504. In addition to filing these lawsuits, Personal Audio has sent demand letters to a variety of podcasters demanding that they pay a license fee. Because Personal Audio's business model is entirely based on leveraging its patents and it does not do any podcasting itself, the company fits the definition of a "non-practicing entity," or—as everyone from EFF to the White House calls these entities—a "patent troll."
"As we show in our petition, Personal Audio is not the true inventor of this technology and should not be demanding a payout from today's podcasters," EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer said. "If you look into the history of podcasting, you won't see anything about Personal Audio."
Today's petition shows that Personal Audio did not invent anything new, and, in fact, other people were podcasting years before Personal Audio first applied for a patent. In preparation for this filing, EFF solicited help from the public to find prior art, or earlier examples of podcasting. In the petition, EFF cites three examples: Internet Pioneer Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" online radio show and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Members of the public donated $76,160 to fund this campaign, an amount more than double what EFF originally requested when it launched its "Save Podcasting" fundraiser in May. EFF partnered with attorneys working pro bono and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to craft the petition. The donated funds will be used to pay the fees and costs associated with the petition, which are primarily Patent Office filing fees. Any funds remaining after the fees are paid will go towards EFF's ongoing patent reform work.
"Bad patents like this one slow down innovation—exactly the opposite of what the patent system was intended to do," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Julie Samuels, the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. "We are thrilled to challenge this bad patent and make the world safer for creators and podcasters."
EFF's "Patent Busting Project" is part of a larger effort to defend innovation through both legal and legislative means.
For the petition:
For Personal Audio's U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Staff Attorney and The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents
Electronic Frontier Foundation