back to article Tech troll's podcasting patent blown out of the water by EFF torpedo

US patent judges have invalidated chunks of a podcasting patent used by troll non-practicing entity Personal Audio LLC to extract money from top podcasters and broadcasters. Personal Audio doesn't produce podcasting software or hardware; its sole purpose is to sue people who allegedly infringe the patents it holds in the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...(EFF), which challenged Personal Audio's '504 patent, argues it is not a particularly new or novel idea."

    Unlike "Rounded Corners" or paying immediately "1-Click Shopping". Go EFF! Fight those trolls for you corporate overlords, you hairy troll.

    In all honesty, it is a bullshit software patent, but how's that new? It's easy to believe that ANY software patent is bullshit (because it basically is). If the EFF wants to play attack dog for it's "sponsers", fine, but every now and then an attack dog will bite it's master. But maybe the EFF is just a lapdog.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't call you "MyBackDoor" for nothing.

    2. SolidSquid

      The rounded corners thing came more under a trademark than it did patent law (I think it was trade dress or something it was called?), and while I'd agree that 1-Click Shopping is a bullshit patent, it's not really the EFF's job to go about trying to undermine every patent. Trying to sue people for producing podcasts falls more under a "limiting freedom of speech" category of problem, which is more withing the EFF's remit than the design of a phone or a checkout method

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    A stupid question

    Will Adam Carolla (and others) be able to claim any of his money back?

    1. xerocred

      Re: [Not] A stupid question

      I was wondering that too... it should be payback with interest and penalty.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Richard Jones 1
        WTF?

        Re: A stupid question

        On the face of it there appears to be a hint of fraud and extracting money with menaces involved here, maybe even blackmail. I wonder if you can sue for a shakedown even if you settled, 'under duress' outside a court of kangaroos or jack asses; oops, sorry American court of law?

        America used to have the best police money could buy perhaps trade practices have spread a little further?

        1. Cliff

          Re: A stupid question

          >>>.On the face of it there appears to be a hint of fraud and extracting money with menaces involved here, maybe even blackmail.<<<

          Not a hint of it, it's outright, deliberate, balls-out abuse, extortion and bigger war-chest thuggery. It's even worse than Prenda and ilk, involves zero innovation beyond retrospectively making a land-grab for the commons.

          These businesses, their owners, shareholders, directors, employees, lawyers, and anyone involved in the rackets they're created to 'enforce' are cunts of the highest order and deserve to live in their own company for all eternity in the newly created 8th realm of hell, just for them.

          1. Wommit
            Pint

            Re: A stupid question @Cliff

            Cliff, Please, don't beat about the bush, come right out with it and say what you mean.

            It's no good being shy now.

        2. Alistair Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: A stupid question

          "America used to have the best police money could buy perhaps trade practices have spread a little further?"

          That they could be bought wasis the problem.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: A stupid question

        Here's a business idea for the mafia: Let people pay protection money.

        Not protection money for "would be a shame if something happened to your business", but "would be nice for your business if that patent troll would disappear".

      3. Tom 13

        Re: Basically no, as he settled out of court.

        Yep.

        But I'd say that's a law that needs to change. Part of the problem we now have with trolls is that they can start with small fry who can't afford to defend themselves, which builds a legal portfolio for taking on bigger and bigger fish. One thing that would change that is making all of their settlements related to the patent chargeable back to them if the patent(s) or even parts of it are invalidated.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: Basically no, as he settled out of court.

          One thing that would change that is making all of their settlements related to the patent chargeable back to them if the patent(s) or even parts of it are invalidated.

          Easily circumventable by ensuring all profits leave via dividend as soon as they get the payout(s), and then filing for bankruptcy if they ever get told to pay money back. Your "new", "completely unrelated" company then gets to buy the remaining patent portfolio for a song off the old one, and back to BAU.

          I can't see it making any perceivable to the existing patent troll companies, even if it were implemented that way :(

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Problem?

    It's not "Personal Audio" that is the problem but the USPO attitude of basically issuing rubbish patents in the first place.

    The system is basically you have to have better lawyers and more money than the patent holder to "prove" a patent is invalid, All of which should have been rejected by the Patent Office.

    Are they paid more if they approve rather than reject?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Problem? (@ Mage)

      "Are they paid more if they approve rather than reject?"

      I think that's exactly the case, but the really important question is whether those payments are made openly to the USPTO or 'under the table' to the people who approves the patent. ;-)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Problem? (@ Mage)

        It's precisly "to be fair" that they accept most patents.

        If an examiner rejected a patent that was clearly guff that would be un-American, a faceless bureaucrat crushing the poor lone inventor just because he felt like it.

        Instead they are (were - the rules recently loosened a little) only allowed to reject patents that had clear prior-art listed in a patent in the same specific category as the invention.

        The idea is that, in a democracy, the technical merits of the patent would be decided by 12random jurors in East Texas rather than by an expert patent examiner.

        You could literally patent the wheel if there wasn't an existing US patent on it. One US company famously patented using tumeric as an anti-septic about 3000years after a Sanksrit document recommended it - their claim was that the original inventor hadn't patented it.

  4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    TLDR - properly.

    I've just skimmed the patent, and it really is a load of guff.

    The text talks about everything from the storing and indexing of the files on the source server, through transmitting it to a media device, and sow to the level of describing "prev", "next" and menu keys on the device.

    It's so difficult to work out that is novel in the patent, and that was not prior that the person filing it should really have been made to strip it down to what was really the nature of the innovation. You would have to wonder the thought process of the person who originally accepted the patent at all, but then again, I don't really know the process.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: TLDR - properly.

      Funny thing it is this, "innovation". A few days ago I accidentally stumbled upon the "sun and planet gear" mechanism - as nifty as it is, what struck me was that it was patented by James Watt (yes, that one) as a necessity to get around the patent of the crank, already held by someone else. I kid you not - the idea that a thing going back and forth can be connected to another thing going round and around with a straight piece of metal was already locked up behind a patent. Not something non-obvious like, say, a differential drive - no: the bloody crank, that HAD to have naive prior art miles long. My respect for mr. Watt grew considerably that day (irrespective of whether he did it on principle or out of avarice, and of the fact that he didn't invent it himself) for not giving in to what must have been the equivalent of patent trolling back then, and sunk and equal amount for the patent system in general (if that was even possible anymore), whether we are talking about the USPTO or any other equivalent institution. Patents may have their uses, but even no patents at all would be better than the miserable bullshit we have now...

      1. Andrew Norton

        Re: TLDR - properly.

        We're talking about the same James Watt that held back steam engine development for 20 years because of his patent on the steam engine?

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: TLDR - properly.

          Yeah ok, if that's true, my respect is back to normal levels or less... :) The original point remains though.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    They sued Apple?

    Using a bullshit patent?

    I'm amazed that works. Surely that's like trying to freeze polar bears to death or kill Satan with a flamethrower....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: They sued Apple?

      Apple settled for about what it would cost them in Latte's for the lawyers to fight the case. There is also the risk that the jury would like the other side's lawyer's tie more and slap mega-rich Apple with a $Bn settlement.

      Apple know they would use the $8M as a fighting fund to go after other people = Apple's competitors. So from Apple's pov it's like paying a protection racket to go and smash somebodies else's store - except it's cheap and legal. Exactly like Microsoft paying SCO's claim on owning Unix.

  6. RLWatkins

    a patent on the recording and distribution of audio

    Wow, what a novel idea.

    I'm still fighting to gain my patent on the graphical representation of verbal communication, and that other patent on artifacts, so I can collect royalties from anyone who writes or who uses anything at all that they didn't happen to find lying about on the forest floor.

    This is The American Way. Roh!

  7. vordan

    EFF should sue USPO for allowing stupid patents. Most probably in exchange for money...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      IBM already patented patent trolling.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey, Personal Audio LLC

    Stick THAT up ya jumper!

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