EFF Helps Bust Bogus Patent That Was Being Used To Shake Down Podcasters

Remember Personal Audio? That’s the company that claimed it had a patent (8,112,504) from years ago that covered all podcasting and then sued a bunch of top podcasters over it. The company got itself lots of attention, including from EFF, who filed with the UPSTO to invalidate the patent. In response, Personal Audio tried to intimidate EFF’s donors. Eventually, Personal Audio realized that podcasters don’t actually make that much money and settled a bunch of its lawsuits — even with Adam Carolla (which actually does make a bunch of money) who had insisted he wasn’t going to settle.

Most of those settlements were for no money, but the company did win its lawsuit against CBS (in Eastern Texas, of course). However, the EFF’s initial effort to invalidate the patent at the USPTO (which is a separate process from the lawsuits) has now resulted in the Patent Office invalidating the key claims in the patent. You can read the USPTO’s decision, in which it notes that the key parts of the claim were clearly obvious to practitioners skilled in the art at the time of the patent and that the prior art invalidates the patent as well.

We are persuaded by a preponderance of the evidence that Petitioner’s rationale for obviousness is supported by rational underpinnings.

Kudos to the team at EFF, who have been doing some great work on patents lately (contrary to one of our grumpy commenters who insists that the EFF lawyers will never be seen as “serious professionals” by the US Patent Office, and will remain “marginal players at best”). Can’t wait to see what patent projects they take on next…

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