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"Patent Troll" Closes Controversial Podcast Patent Deal With SanDisk 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-podcast-is-my-podcast-this-podcast-is-not-your-podcast dept.
wabrandsma writes "James Logan's patent company, Personal Audio, has closed a licensing agreement with SanDisk. The company says that now 'between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players' are made by companies to which its patents have been licensed, including LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and Amazon. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to fight Personal Audio's podcasting patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. About 30,000 dollars, was brought in earlier this year through crowdfunding to fight the case. Logan took part in a question-and-answer session here In June."
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"Patent Troll" Closes Controversial Podcast Patent Deal With SanDisk

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  • TFS: 'between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players'

    Kills the motivation to read on immediately.

    CC.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      is it like half?

      what does it cover anyways.. the idea that anyone who sells a device that can play mp3's should pay money to them because they can be used to listen to podcasts? why not cassette players? why is a manufacturer of one part of the patent responsible for it.. when cisco isn't responsible for patent infringement stemming from documented use of their hardware??

      • by Xenx (2211586)
        For clarification, Sandisk produces mp3 players. It's not just components for them.
      • is it like half?

        Well, if you want to be mean, or median for that matter. going out 6 decimal places gets you
        49.999999
        So I would say yes, your approximation was approximately spot on...

        • by 2fuf (993808)

          That's what they want you to think

          • Oh, given that the troll company made the statement, I would not be surprised to hear it's actually 35%... which IS between one and two thirds... in a lawyerish sort of way...
            • by 2fuf (993808)

              Actually, it's 33.3333334. But I won't have expected you to know that.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Maybe I'm not getting the joke, but 1.5 thirds is exactly half. If you're getting decimal places, you're doing it wrong.

      • by 2fuf (993808)

        > is it like half?

        could even be 34%

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      TFS was very accurate. The company did indeed say "somewhere between one-third and two-thirds of all MP3 audio players" I'm not sure why you stopped reading a summary or an article, because they quoted someone.
  • by ThatAblaze (1723456) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @01:52PM (#44857081)

    Patent trolls only exist because patent examiners are approving patents without any idea what a significant advancement in the state of the art actually is. Educate the examiners so they quit just approving everyone who hands them a $20,000 check.

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:38PM (#44857291) Journal

      Patent trolls exist because we have patents. The problem goes back to the very beginning of its institution.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Patent trolls exist because we have unethical lawyers. If it wasn't for the unethical lawyers, we would only have wanna-be-patent-trolls who would be kicked out of court right away before achieving full troll status. The patent system has been known to be broken for decades (see, for example, the 1991 position paper by the League for Programming Freedom). Our wonderful US legal profession lacks the integrity to recognize this or to do anything about it.

        The rest of society is too stupid, ignorant, or apat

  • by NF6X (725054) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:02PM (#44857117) Homepage
    I look forward to a time when people respond to patent trolls with actual torches and pitchforks. Tar and feathers will also be acceptable.
    • by DiEx-15 (959602)

      I look forward to a time when people respond to patent trolls with actual torches and pitchforks. Tar and feathers will also be acceptable.

      I look forward to that day too because I will be the one selling the torches, pitchforks, tar, and bulk feathers.

  • by oldhack (1037484) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:06PM (#44857135)
    This bit, gleaned from the linked slashdot interview, sums it up:

    Can you explain? by trcooper

    Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

    Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of troubleâ"with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So Iâ(TM)ll have to take a pass on this one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sacrabos (2563893)
      Isn't part of the Patent Application being that you outline exactly why your invention is novel enough from previous systems?
      • Certainly, and that would be a central issue in any dispute over this patent. Therefore, for either party to make public statements on that issue other than "you can read it in the patent" would be stupid, for the same reason that it's stupid for criminal suspects to converse with the police.

      • Isn't part of the Patent Application being that you outline exactly why your invention is novel enough from previous systems?

        To the patent office only, presumably - Joe Public can go hang as far as they're concerned...

      • by CaptBubba (696284)

        No. The burden is on the Patent Office to prove it is non-novel. The burden of proof is fairly low (preponderance of the evidence) but still the Patent Office has to say why you cannot have a patent and if you disagree that their reasoning, evidence, or conclusions are sound you may argue against them or even appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.

        Indeed any good Patent Agent or Attorney likely will tell you to not even think about searching around for other things like what you think you've invented.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Indeed any good Patent Agent or Attorney likely will tell you to not even think about searching around for other things like what you think you've invented. This is because you are obligated to provide anything relevant you find to the Patent Office in the form of an Information Disclosure Statement

          Actually the law obligates you to search around, due diligence, and any attorney suggesting you do otherwise is a quack and a charlatan.
          Failure to cite obvious and relevant patents, easily found from common sources (which, these days includes google) is evidence of an intent to obtain a patent fraudulently. See 37 C.F.R. 1.56. And run away from any lawyer that tells you otherwise.

    • This bit, gleaned from the linked slashdot interview, sums it up:

      Can you explain? by trcooper

      Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

      Logan: Trcooper, this is one of those of questions that could get me in a boatload of troubleâ"with my lawyer, that is. Any comments I make regarding the claims and how they are different from previous systems, can and will be used against me in court. So Iâ(TM)ll have to take a pass on this one.

      This bit, gleaned from the recent television interview, sums it up:

      Can you explain why you claim you're innocent of the murder you've been accused of?

      Defendant: My lawyer has told me not to answer any questions, because anything I say may be twisted or used against me in court. So I'll have to take a pass on this one.

      Ah ha! Clearly he did it and there's no need for trials!

      ... at least, by your stilted logic.

    • I pointed out, in a question that he chose not to answer, that the idea of people recording things on tape and shipping them back and forth regularly was used in M*A*S*H, where Charles Winchester regularly exchanged reel-to-reel tapes with his family back in Boston. That would have been the mid '70s for the show, and was probably based on things done in reality by rich people AKA early adopters, back in the 1950s.

  • So this mean I could get a patent on Taking toilet paper, arranging the single sheets infront of me and then wiping my ass while taking detailed notes on the action. Great.

    How is this differnt then posting files on a website and letting people download them and sort through them? Wasn't aware of this deliciosuly unique .podcast file extension.

  • I'm curious how many people have actually read the patent and know what the claims are.

    Sometimes, we play "we have to tar and feather them to find out why we should tar and feather them".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, someone has read the patent.

      The EFF have a prior art thread on stack exchange that makes for a more interesting read.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:42PM (#44857313)

    The whole patent system was designed to encourage building physical things people used. Patents were never intended to cover the thought process or logic or eventual machine readable logic derived from the mind on how a person was to use a product.

    New Zealand has just disallowed software patents and maybe that will proceed to other countries.

    If you want your product methods & operation choices and commands to be secret, then obfuscate your code.

    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @02:49PM (#44857349) Homepage

      Well to be fair, New Zealand doesn't have a software industry.
      The patent system encourages innovation, it just needs to be run intelligently.

      • by fnj (64210) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @03:14PM (#44857469)

        The patent system encourages innovation

        Bullshit.

        • I suspect that it both encourages and retards innovation, like almost everything that tries to affect innovation. The question is which is dominant "when run intelligently". And that is not an easy question to answer. There's some very intuitive ways that it seems like it should (patents can help guarantee higher profits from innovation, and then encourage disclosure of the methods, both of which foster innovation), but economics is complicated and a lot of slashdotters have come to the conclusion that i

      • by icebike (68054)

        Actually, when you dig into it, New Zealand didn't ban software patents after all. It was covered here on Slashdotsome eeweeks ago.

      • by GreatDrok (684119)

        "Well to be fair, New Zealand doesn't have a software industry."

        It most certainly does. I've worked for a successful NZ software company for years now and we're doing very well with customers globally using our well regarded software. You don't have to look far to find there is a lot of software development going on in NZ and companies based around it. Heck, you might even have heard of a small company called 'Weta' that did the CGI for some fairly popular films.

        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          "Well to be fair, New Zealand doesn't have a software industry."

          It most certainly does.

          I'm assuming what he meant was, "New Zealand doesn't have a large enough software industry for them to have enough lobbying dollars to write the laws."

          • by GreatDrok (684119)

            'I'm assuming what he meant was, "New Zealand doesn't have a large enough software industry for them to have enough lobbying dollars to write the laws."'

            Again, I disagree. We have a solid high tech industry and there was quite a lot of lobbying around software patents. I just think the OP was being arrogant in assuming that NZ has no software industry when actually we have some significant output and the country doesn't just rely on dairy. The software patentability thing was hard fought and a victory fo

      • No, it doesn't. And this comes from my latest "Intellectual Property Workshop", held by our company's patent expert: Our patents are weapons, not for protecting ourselves against other patents, but for preventing our competition from using our technology, thus giving us the competitive advantage. And the company I work for is far from a patent troll, we actually do invent, use, and bring into the market new stuff on a regular basis.

        So there you go. This whole "the patent system encourages innovation" is a t

    • by Maelwryth (982896)
      "New Zealand has just disallowed software patents and maybe that will proceed to other countries."

      Due to the current government, I'm not going to believe that is true until after the TPP [wikipedia.org] is out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish people would stop using troll for everything.

    "Oh you don't agree with my opinion 100%? THEN YOURE A TROLLL!!!!!!"

    "You read about the guy who owns a patent, another company is using it without compensating him or asking permission and he is now suing them? HE IS A TROLL!!!!!!!"

    What do you care? If he has a case he will win it, if he doesn't he will lose it. But all of you see someone sue for a patent and you automatically call them a troll with no real knowledge or personal insight into the case first

  • Not commenting on THIS case as i don't have all the facts, but not everyone that wants to enforce their IP rights is a troll..

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not commenting on THIS case as i don't have all the facts, but not everyone that wants to enforce their IP rights is a troll..

      That's true, but in this case the patent is clearly obvious because everybody else came up with the same thing completely independent of the patent. Suing to enforce a completely obvious patent is pretty much the definition of a patent troll.

  • I think an easy way to address patent trolling is to implement a loser-pays system if the suing party's patent is overturned in court. This will dissuade the trolls from exploiting the current situation where patents are used to extort settlements from people and small businesses that don't have the financial means to fight a bad patent. This doesn't require fixing the root problem of the USPTO issuing bad patents and would be easier to implement as a prelude to real patent reform.

    • by Ambassador Kosh (18352) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @07:54PM (#44859133)

      How would you deal with mega corps then? If someone took an actual invention you made and then used it themselves the odds of you winning against a megacorp is close to nil. So you could attack them and then wind up with all their billions in legal costs.

      I am not saying that loser pays is entirely bad but there do need to be protections in it so that it does not simply end up bigger is immune to anything.

  • There should be a bounty for killing trollish patents. Usually, there are many targets who settle and sign royalty agreements with the patent troll before any target decides to fight them in court. First, all such agreements should be required to be public. Second, whenever a target successfully defeats a patent troll in court, all the future royalties that were previously agreed to should be cut in half, and paid to the party that defeated the patent troll. They should also be able to go after recovery of

  • Back in the 1990s I used a Gartner service called "Talking Technology" (launched in 1995); basically a "podcast" on cassette tape, with a set of audio briefings on various technology topics delivered to subscribers at least once a month.

    Other than being "on a computer", how is that any different from modern podcasts? Or deserving of a patent?

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