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Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll 63

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the could-have-been-worse dept.
Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting for some time now; in March Adam Carolla was sued and decided to fight back. Via the EFF comes news that he has settled with Personal Audio, and the outcome is likely beneficial to those still fighting the trolls. From the article: Although the settlement is confidential, we can guess the terms. This is because Personal Audio sent out a press release last month saying it was willing to walk away from its suit with Carolla. So we can assume that Carolla did not pay Personal Audio a penny. We can also assume that, in exchange, Carolla has given up the opportunity to challenge the patent and the chance to get his attorney’s fees. ... EFF’s own challenge to Personal Audio’s patent is on a separate track and will continue ... with a ruling likely by April 2015. ... We hope that Personal Audio’s public statements on this issue mean that it has truly abandoned threatening and suing podcasters. Though a press release might not be legally binding, the company will have a hard time justifying any further litigation (or threats of litigation) against podcasters. Any future targets can point to this statement. Carolla deserves recognition for getting this result.
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Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll

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  • Lodsys, of "in-app purchases" infamy, have been very quiet of late.
    Is the tide finally turning in the favour of innovation and common sense?

    • by frikken lazerz (3788987) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:31AM (#47701723)
      There's still little to no innovation because innovative simply doesn't sell. The big companies are afraid to take risks, and individuals with big ideas have to deal with so much red tape and bureaucracy that most of them don't even try. Unless by innovative you mean dumbing down the user interface even more to appeal to the least common denominator. If so, then there's craploads of innovation.
      • by JWW (79176)

        Whenever patent trolls get talked about, it always comes down to how much impact this is having on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

        I think the patent trolls naturally tell us that this is "no big deal".

        However, I can't shake the feeling that utterly abysmal rate of new small businesses being started these days is directly related to these fucking evil trolls.

        I think any estimation of how much economic activity is being stifled by these trolls is quite possibly orders of magnitude off.

      • by seoras (147590)

        > Unless by innovative you mean dumbing down the user interface even more to appeal to the least common denominator. If so, then there's craploads of innovation.

        Oh you mean like Tim Berners-Lee did when he simplified human interaction with shared data on the fledgling internet which had, until then, been useable only by CS academics and a few industrial techs?

        Give me craps loads more my friend...

    • by maroberts (15852)

      I am still missing my Groklaw fix which used to assiduously track and report on such cases with detailed insight.

      • by Stumbles (602007)
        So do I. The analysis done at Groklaw in my opinion was more than top notch and a joy to read. I was saddened when PJ announced its closing.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @06:36AM (#47701869) Homepage

    He should have pushed for court and had a judge rule then it would have murdered the whole thing and sent a clear message to all the other patent trolls.

    Now the trolls have the ability to come back later, picking a poor podcaster that can not fight back.

    • by jeti (105266) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:30AM (#47702051) Homepage

      He should, but he couldn't. Apparently he had already spent more than the $500.000 he had crowdfunded to fight the troll. Not everyone can afford justice.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        So you ask for more, I donated $100 to his cause and would have thrown in another $100, Also get other big hitter podcasters to spread the word. Adam is big, but not Leo Laporte and TWIT big. He could have reached out and really churned the media on this.

        Honestly these patent trolls need to be met with a legal nuclear bomb. You dont end on a peace agreement, you turn their world into a nuclear wasteland.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Are you sure about those statistics? Right now on iTunes, the Adam Carolla show is #25 on the top podcasts list. TWIT is #70, and The Tech Guy is #94. On the top episode list, there are 4 episodes of Adam Carolla-related shows (three ACS with one at #2, one Adam and Dr. Drew Show) listed above the first instance of TWIT, which is #84. In the top 100, there are 5 ACS episodes, one Adam and Dr. Drew, and just 2 TWIT. No Leo solo on there.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          Adam Corolla has a whole podcast network, and that is bigger then TWIT and Leo.

          The problem with Patent troll is that anyone who has a claim is now called a troll.

          When you create a nuclear wasteland, it's everyone's world suffers.

        • by Ogive17 (691899)
          Unfortunately he has absolutely nothing to gain from proceeding further with litigation. He fought the good fight and didn't cave in to their demands. He got them to back off and created the framework for others to suceed as well.

          He is a businessman, not a saint.
          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            Well, he "settled". I can't provide a direct quote, though it sure seemed like he said previously he'd never settle.

            I'm glad at least that there isn't a permanent gag order, and Adam will give the details in not too long a time.

            BTW, I am not saying I'm necessarily 100% on his side. There was either a Planet Money or Freakanomics podcast episode about Personal Audio, and, after listening to that, I do think they had something very close to "a podcast with cassettes".. As much as people disclaim patents of

      • by usuallylost (2468686) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:11AM (#47702217)

        It would have been great for him to invalidate their patent. I can however see where the economics of it might not work. Especially considering that the trial was occurring in a venue considered friendly to trolls. It sounds like he, and his legal team, made a calculation and figured that they were going to spend a lot more money with no certainty that the court would do the right thing. Also with no certainty that they would be able to recover any of their non-trivial legal fees. I can see where he would decide it was time to cut his losses. The silver lining here is that if he spent over $500,000 odds are they ended up spending something similar. So this whole endeavor has likely been a big money loser for them.

        • by unrtst (777550)

          The silver lining here is that if he spent over $500,000 odds are they ended up spending something similar.

          It's quite difficult to consider spending half a million dollars on legal fees only to walk away without justice being served as being a silver lining. This is one more reason people should support the EFF - they see their cases through to the end whenever possible (AFAICT). The best outcome in this case for the lawyers involved is exactly what happened - loads of fees and no actual case; what motivation do they (in general) have to see patent trolls go away?

          • by usuallylost (2468686) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:11AM (#47702959)

            The reason I say it is a silver lining is that the money Adam Carolla lost is mostly crowd funded money. So a lot of people lost $20 each. The trolls didn't bankrupt him, it appears that they didn't succeed in forcing him to pay and they very likely lost ~$500,000 out of pocket. So for the trolls this is a net loss. Depriving them of funds, generating publicity for the cause and having them fail at their goals are all good things. Not as good as winning an outright victory but better than losing to them.

            Lawyers as a general rule are loath to see anything that generates legal activity go away. No matter how abusive of the system it is. Just look at how much money lawyers spend defeating any measure that might be construed as tort reform. Still at the end of the day when a lawyer is being paid, assuming the lawyer isn't a crook, they generally act in their client's interests or at least within the confines of the client's instructions. From the point of view of the individual lawyers involved the very best thing that could happen is this case drags on for years and they get to bill a lot more hours. A case like this is a gravy train for lawyers and now it is ending.

      • The biggest problem I see in the north-american justice system is that you have to pay (and pay a lot) to defend yourself, as absurd and ridiculous that are the accusations against you. That way the bandit lawyers always win, because winning or losing the cause they will always make you lose a lot of money.
    • He should have pushed for court

      How much did you contribute to his crowdfunding campaign to help cover the million-dollar cost of going to court?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >He should have ... had a judge ... murdered ... and sent a clear message to all the other patent trolls.

      You're now on a watchlist.

    • With the litigant (Personal Audio) having chosen to file in the Texas court system that historically favors the patent holders, Carolla's legal team probably advised him to take the deal, walk away without payment, secure future immunity and call it a victory.

      It is unlikely that Personal Audio will file against other podcasters - even large ones, like Maron, Rogan, Nerdist, Ira Glass, LaPorte, et. al because the litigant discovered during filing that podcasters aren't making huge buckets of money. The la

  • by engun (1234934) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @06:43AM (#47701895)
    The big corps would now have us believe that a special breed of troll called a "patent troll" is the only problem with the system, and they, like every entrepreneur, are merely victims. This is all just the same manipulative BS. The patent troll exists only because the patent system is broken. Fix the problem at its root and patent trolls will be irrelevant.
    • The patent troll exists only because the patent system exists... You can't fix what is "broken" by design. It's time for complete utter abolition. And copyright too! Pure corruption, all of it...

  • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @09:35AM (#47702717) Homepage Journal

    Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting

    This is completely false. The patents don't cover podcasting per se, rather they cover methods for displaying and indexing podcast directories for distribution, the way they are organized in, for instance, the iTunes store. You can podcast all you want, distribute your podcasts and do everything else with them without Personal Audio making a claim, unless you put them into an iTunes store-like directory.

    Not saying that it's a whole lot better, but this patent is easily avoidable, and the description is just disinformation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The patent is also invalid and should never have been granted. The only way to get rid of it is to challenge the validity in court. A settlement means he's not going to do that and the patent stands. It doesn't matter that it's easily avoidable, it's not something that should have been patented in the first place.

    • I looked on the company's website, and it appears to list no royalty schedule, unlike MPEG LA and MP3Licensing (Fraunhofer/Technicolor).
      • I looked on the company's website, and it appears to list no royalty schedule, unlike MPEG LA and MP3Licensing (Fraunhofer/Technicolor).

        Well those guys are involved in "standard" organizations, so their patents have to have a schedule so they qualify as RAND patents.

  • eh, Corolla?

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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