A federal appeals court knocked out a patent troll's claims against podcasters.
In Personal Audio v. Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that invalidated Personal Audio's "podcasting patent." The company had threatened numerous podcasters in recent years, and forced some into settlements.
The court ruling ended the patent troll's seven-year reign over podcasters, with industry observers claiming "the podcasting patent is totally dead."
The 504 Patent
The case stemmed from U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." Personal Audio made the claim during its entree into the digital music market.
The startup failed, but the company began suing companies for allegedly infringing on the patent. It won millions of dollars from businesses like Apple and Samsung.
In 2013, Personal Audio started sending threatening letters to small podcasters. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights group, sued to challenge the patent.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said the patent was invalid against the podcasters because "episodic content" on the internet predated the patent claim. The court of appeals agreed.
Before the court decision, Personal Audio had pushed podcasters to the brink, including comedian Adam Carolla. He raised $500,000 through his podcast to fight the so-called patent troll.
Jim Logan, who founded Personal Audio, felt no shame in the litigation. He told news organizations that he was just doing business.
"There's been a lot of talk in the press about how we're going to put podcasters out of business, and that's just ridiculous," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Anyone who's running a licensing business doesn't want to put their customers out of business obviously."