Patent Trolls Suffer Setback

It is always good news to hear about a patent troll taking one on the chin. According to this article from the BBC, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has invalidated parts of a patent claimed by Personal Audio. The patent at issue claimed all rights on “a system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence,” what we might generally call podcasting. The PTO’s decision can be found here. (Personal Audio was the troll that tangled with Adam Corolla last year and lost via a settlement.)

The latest action was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

According to Ars Technica:

The ‘504 patent has a priority date of 1996, but as the EFF showed during its challenge to the patent office, that’s hardly the beginning of “episodic content” on the Internet. The EFF relied on two key examples of earlier technology to beat the patent: one was CNN’s “Internet Newsroom,” which patent office judges found fulfilled the key claims of having “(1) episodes; (2) an updated compilation file; and (3) a ‘predetermined URL’ for the compilation file.”

Three cheers for the EFF! This is good news for podcasters faced with burdensome litigation and troll shakedowns.

William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books, Crossroads for Liberty, Reclaiming the American Revolution, and Patent Trolls.
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