Friday the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated five parts of the “podcasting patent” held by Personal Audio, a decision that will help many podcasters sleep a little better at night. Since 2013, Personal Audio has been claiming that it owns podcasting, and was threatening to sue any podcasters refusing to pay them licensing fees. According to The Washington Post, this decision takes the teeth out of those threats and makes it a lot less likely that Personal Audio will be able to threaten podcasters. Or at the very least, the Post says, “the decision makes it a lot harder for producers to be hit with aggressive infringement lawsuits.”
Unfortunately the decision comes to late for podcaster Adam Carolla who settlement a lawsuit with Personal Audio in 2013 after spending substantial fees defending the suit.
The decision was the result of a petition filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, challenging the validity of the Patent. EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer said “Today is a big victory for the podcasting community.” He added, “We’re glad the Patent Office recognized what we all knew: ‘podcasting’ had been around for many years and this company does not own it.”
Staff attorney for the EFF Vera Ranieri said, “We have a lot to celebrate here but unfortunately, our work to protect podcasting is not done. Personal Audio continues to seek patents related to podcasting. We will continue to fight for podcasters, and we hope the Patent Office does not give them any more weapons to shake down small podcasters.”