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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    12.09.17 @ 11:21 PM
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    Default The fight to save podcasting...and perhaps other parts of the internet

    I think this issue is bigger than the press it is getting, so I thought I should start a new thread, despite a Podcast Exchange thread existing 7 years ago (if mods feel it is more appropriate to put this thread in there, that's fine).

    Not sure if you guys have heard, but there is a group of lawyers called Personal Audio (http://personalaudio.net/) who don't make any products, but have some vague patents that they use to threaten people and get money. These types of people are often known as patent trolls.

    Anyway, in 2011, Personal Audio won a judgement against Apple for infringing on its mp3 player patent. Personal Audio has never made an mp3 player, but they do own a patent on an "Audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller" and "Audio program distribution and playback system." Apple tried to fight them but lost. Personal Audio was awarded $8 million. Apple appealed, and the two entities settled out of court. Most other mp3 manufacturers paid Personal Audio to go away, and others pay them a licensing fee for making anything that plays mp3s, essentially.

    Now, Personal Audio is going after podcasting. About a year ago, they filed suit against How Stuff Works, Togi Entertainment, and Ace Broadcasting, the parent company of the Adam Carolla Show.

    Adam Carolla, head of Ace Broadcasting, received a letter demanding $3 million for infringing on Personal Audio's podcasting patent or be sued. One thing Personal Audio did actually produce in the 90s was a series of cassette tapes where people read the contents of magazines, like a book on tape, and were released as the magazines were. Personal Audio has a patent on a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence."

    Carolla refused to pay and will be fighting Personal Audio in court come September. His lawyers told him it will take $1.5 million to go to court, and he is asking for donations. Personal Audio filed suit in east Texas, which is renowned for being sympathetic to these types of claims. 88% of plaintiffs win in the Texas East District as opposed to 68% nationally. Likely Togi was sued to prevent a change of venue, though Ace Broadcasting is currently trying to get a change of venue.

    If Personal Audio wins this case, all podcasters will essentially be required to either pay them a hefty fee, pay them a licensing fee, or stop podcasting all together. They have already been successful in doing this with mp3 players.

    In studying their website, they list four patents. MP3 players and podcasts are only the first two listed. Next is "personalized recommendations." I'm no lawyer, but that patent sounds an awful lot like Pandora or iTunes Radio, which could be the next domino.

    Roughly 58% of all patent lawsuits involve patent holders that are "non performing" entities. The government is supposed to weed out overly broad patents. This type of stuff stifles innovation, yet the government hasn't been able to keep up.

    Having intimidated most people into settling, Personal Audio has quite a war chest. They also have nothing to lose. Unlike some other court systems, the loser does not have to pay the costs of unsuccessful suits.

    I wonder how much of the internet Personal Audio's patents might cover...? Read the lawsuits here http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...uffworks.shtml

  2. #2
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    12.10.17 @ 05:36 PM
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    This case perfectly summarizes all that is wrong with the American legal system. Your choices are pay us millions or pay your lawyer millions and hope the courts see how ridiculous this "patent" is. Insanity.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post
    This case perfectly summarizes all that is wrong with the American legal system. Your choices are pay us millions or pay your lawyer millions and hope the courts see how ridiculous this "patent" is. Insanity.
    Talking to my friend that's a doctor, she's never been sued, never been threatened to be sued, but her malpractice insurance goes up every year because the pool of possible plaintiffs continues to grow. In. Sane.

    Just implementing a "loser pays" system would cut down on a lot of this, and it would be so easy!

    It's interesting that Personal Audio lists 4 patents. They've sued and won with the first one, they're suing on the second one listed. I'm guessing suing regarding 3 and 4 are to come. Like I said, I don't really understand what it could encompass, but the 3rd patent they list sounds an awful lot like "smart radio" stations that submit media to the end user based on their preferences.

  4. #4
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post
    Talking to my friend that's a doctor, she's never been sued, never been threatened to be sued, but her malpractice insurance goes up every year because the pool of possible plaintiffs continues to grow. In. Sane.

    Just implementing a "loser pays" system would cut down on a lot of this, and it would be so easy!

    It's interesting that Personal Audio lists 4 patents. They've sued and won with the first one, they're suing on the second one listed. I'm guessing suing regarding 3 and 4 are to come. Like I said, I don't really understand what it could encompass, but the 3rd patent they list sounds an awful lot like "smart radio" stations that submit media to the end user based on their preferences.
    We have a loser pays system here. Might explain why we get so many fewer of these sorts of cases. It's not a perfect system, but it's certainly a better system.

 

 

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