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Patents The Courts Electronic Frontier Foundation United States Apple Technology

'Podcasting Patent' Is Totally Dead, Appeals Court Rules (arstechnica.com) 30

A federal appeals court affirmed the April 2015 inter partes review (IPR) ruling -- a process that allows anyone to challenge a patent's validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- that invalidated the so-called "podcasting patent." "That process was held by a company called Personal Audio, which had threatened numerous podcasts with lawsuits in recent years," reports Ars Technica. From the report: Back in 2013, Personal Audio began sending legal demand letters to numerous podcasters and companies, like Samsung, in an apparent attempt to cajole them into a licensing deal, lest they be slapped with a lawsuit. Some of those efforts were successful: in August 2014, Adam Carolla paid about $500,000. As Personal Audio began to gain more public attention, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, stepped in and said that it would challenge Personal Audio's US Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." In the end, EFF raised over $76,000, more than double its initial target.

[T]he history of Personal Audio dates to the late 1990s, when founder Jim Logan created a company seeking to create a kind of proto-iPod digital music player. But his company flopped. Years later, Logan turned to lawsuits to collect money from those investments. He sued companies over both the "episodic content" patent, as well as a separate patent, which Logan and his lawyers said covered playlists. He and his lawyers wrung verdicts or settlements from Samsung and Apple.

'Podcasting Patent' Is Totally Dead, Appeals Court Rules

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  • Patent Peer Review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptQuark ( 2706165 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @03:23AM (#54962353)
    This is one of the reasons patents should be peer reviewed before being granted. This was also discussed when it was revealed that Australia awarded a patent for a wheel in 2001. https://yro.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by slashrio ( 2584709 )
      A long time I didn't understand why it weren't those ex-convicts 'down under' that have invented the 'cell phone', but now I know: they even hadn't invented the wheel yet. Hilarious.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sigh, that patent is a 'non pantent'. It's a special kind of cheap and fast patent that is un-reviewed.

      Should the patent holders desire to allege infringement against someone, the holder then pays for a formal review and upgrade of the patent before it would stick in a court of law. Until then, it's a very formal form of prior art.

      Upshot, those true 'backyard' inventors can quickly patent their inventions, prior art can be accumulated more quickly and formally, crackpot inventions can be 'patented' withou

    • There is problem with peer review too. There is often the patented idea, that is so simple and elegant, that the reviewer would go, why didn't I think of that, and flag it as obvious. Where it actually is a new and unique idea, where the inventor deserves credit and compensation for the idea. While they are other ideas that will tech-talk its way around the peer reviewers who may not be able to see past the BS and will never admit they didn't get it. And approve it for the fact it egged the system, for a

      • I've seen Hans Rosling talk about how his common-sense ideas were dismissed as obvious in many of his initial presentations, so he switched to first asking the audience what they thought, and then presented his findings, and suddenly everyone thought he had remarkable and ground-breaking insights.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        No. The problem is the size of the inventor pool. If there were 30 or 300 people inventing in an area, it would be a reasonable argument. If there are 300,000 it's quite weak. You're going to get more than one independent invention, and there's no reason to grant any particular one of them an exclusive monopoly.

        If it were allowed as a defense against a patent that you had independently invented it, then you might have a valid point. Unfortunately, all to often something is granted for an "obvious paten

      • Your local laws actually probably state the speed limit is the fastest you can prudently go. So, in that case, you probably weren't actually following the letter of the law. In other words, check your laws. Prudent means, in this case, under optimal conditions. That is most jurisdictions, across the globe - with varied enforcement levels.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @04:00AM (#54962515)

    attempt to cajole them into a licensing deal, lest they be slapped with a lawsuit. Some of those efforts were successful: in August 2014, Adam Carolla paid about $500,000.

    We really need a procedure to get these sorts of payments reversed if the patent is later found to be invalid. A large part of the reason the Blackberry died was because they settled for over $600 million with patent troll NTP [wikipedia.org] right around the time when they badly needed the money to develop a new device (industry was transitioning to touchscreens). All but one of NTP's patents were later invalidated [patentspostgrant.com], but because RIM had entered a settlement they couldn't get the money back (even though it was effectively done under threat of a lawsuit under false pretenses).

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2017 @04:27AM (#54962645) Homepage

      Lesson: Don't enter into settlements to shut up people who have absolutely no claim as to what they are holding over you.

      Take them to court, drag it out, invalidate their patents and take their business from underneath them, instead of just capitulating and paying them money to avoid the hassle.

      If you have $600m dollars to give away, you can fight in court for an AWFULLY long time, appeal multiple times and then reclaim all your costs from the company when they are proven wrong.

      These people operate on the basis of extortion - I won't take you to court and risk winning my case against you, if you just give me lots of money now.

      If their claims are baseless, ignore them. If their claims have standing, pay them a FRAND patent licence for failing to do your homework.

      Don't "believe they have no case" but then settle to avoid the hassle. It allows them to continue doing that to yourself and others, and they'll come back for more.

      What was stupid was entering into a $600m settlement, part of which - your lawyers would have instructed you - means that if it were invalidated, you'd get nothing.

      Hell, for a couple of million you could do a full patent review and argue the case. If you lose, you probably still have to pay the $600m (to be honest, I can't imagine a reasonably licensed patent costing that much for such a company). But then if the patent is invalidated you automatically "win" on appeal and get your money and court-costs back.

      Settling is really a stupid thing to do if you're innocent. To be honest, it's also a stupid thing to do if you're guilty (just pay the patent licence in the first place if you thought it had merit!).

      It's the corporate equivalent of accepting a police caution when you're innocent. Easy to do, all the hassle goes away, you don't spend a night in the cell or have to hire a lawyer. But it will forever stain your record as, basically, an admission of guilt of that instance.

      • So does anything preclude them suing to get that money back? Or is it only astronomically unlikely that they would win such a case?

      • Except the way the trolls work is they begin by picking off little guys for a couple mil, which is way less than the cost of the court fight. After the troll has some bucks from extorting some small frys, they move to medium frys, who still roll because the cost of fighting is still more than settling. Good biz dictates settle. Finally the troll may attempt to take on a big fry where the payout to the troll makes it worth the risk. I was obliquely involved in a case where the company decided to fight and th
      • Big companies that settle have a competitive advantage over smaller companies who actually feel pain from the settlement.

    • by Aaden42 ( 198257 )
      I'd bet the sum of that settlement there's language in the agreement to the effect that the settlement and payment stand even if the patent is later found invalid. There's nothing you could do to reverse that.
  • The American patent system is a total joke.

    If I was an American citizen I'd patent using your bowels to eliminate waste into a suitable receptacle. Everyone who ever took a dump would then owe me a million dollars.

    I'd be a trillionaire within minutes !!!

  • Adam Carolla Suit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The summary of the articles is misleading about the lawsuit with Adam Carolla. The articles linked to in the summary say that Adam Carolla raised $500,000 for a legal defense against Personal Audio. They do not say that he paid Personal Audio any money. The reports and what he has said on his podcast indicate he used the money for defending against the lawsuit.

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"

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