This troll must have missed the memo about suing only those who can't defend themselves.
The basic patent troll business model is this: Get patents, sue small businesses that can't afford to pay for legal defense, and negotiate nuisance settlements. It's easy, it's effective, and if you get enough settlements, you can rake in a decent revenue stream without filing any lawsuits, even if your patent is junk.
The problem for Personal Audio is that they sued Adam Carolla, of "Loveline" and "The Man Show" fame. He's not only a celebrity, but he's a frank, outspoken, and willing crusader.
Patent on All Podcasts?
According to The Economist, Personal Audio once owned a patent on customized cassette tapes with current news. It updated that patent in 2009 to cover pretty much any serialized or episodic podcast that can be downloaded from a specific URL -- in other words, all podcasts.
In addition to reportedly requesting $3 million from Adam Carolla (whose podcast is the most popular on the Internet), Personal Audio has also filed suit against NBC, CBS, and other large media outlets. According to an interview with the trolls, embedded below, PA has settled with Apple and others:
Instead of paying a quick settlement, Adam Carolla had this surprisingly clean-language statement on the matter:
He's seeking to raise $1.5 million to fund a legal defense to defeat the podcasting patent troll. His campaign includes a crowdfunding site (currently sitting at $294,968) and a fundraiser show that included Marc Maron, Doug Benson, Jimmy Kimmel, KROQ's Kevin and Bean, and a performance from Andy Summers of The Police. He's asking anyone who downloads the show to donate what they think it's worth.
Will It Help?
Carolla's target is Personal Audio. If he wins, and the podcasting patent dies, he protects podcasts. But this is a solution to a single battle in the war on patent trolling generally. If he wins, he takes out one troll, but system-wide reforms need to be made if there is to be any real reform.
- Patent Trolls Target ... White Castle? (FindLaw's In House)
- Two Notable Patent Cases Add Fodder to Reform Talk (FindLaw's In House)
- Is the FTC Prepping for a War on Patent Trolls? (FindLaw's In House)