Personal Audio defends its podcasting patent after EFF challenge
A new challenge to the company's patent protects big companies at the expense of a small inventor, the company says
IDG News Service - The company that owns a U.S. patent for podcasting is confident the patent will stand up to a challenge initiated this week by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Personal Audio's patents have stood up to past scrutiny, including a challenge from Apple, said Richard Baker, vice president of licensing for the Texas company.
"I'm confident that we have a valid patent," Baker said Friday, a day after EFF and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society announced they were challenging the patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Baker called Personal Audio, founded in 1996 by inventor James Logan, an "American success story." He questioned why the EFF was working to protect NBC and CBS, two companies Personal Audio filed patent-infringement lawsuits against in April. With the patent challenge, the EFF is working for "large companies against a small business and a couple of inventors," he added.
Personal Audio holds a number of patents, including a 2012 patent for a system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence and a related 1996 patent for an audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller.
In addition to the lawsuits against NBC and CBS, Personal Audio filed lawsuits against ACE Broadcasting Network, HowStuffWorks.com and TogiEntertainment in January.
The EFF has called Personal Audio a "patent troll," with a business plan of filing lawsuits instead of making products. "Patent trolls have been wreaking havoc on innovative companies for some time now," EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels said in a statement. "But this particular breed of troll -- targeting end users, small businesses, startups, and even individuals like podcasters for simply using everyday products -- is a disturbing new threat."
Personal Audio was funded by the patent's inventors, but the company ran out of money before it could bring a product to market, Baker said. Logan "made a run at an operating company, but it was just too early for the technology," he said.
The company was able to hang on to several patents, however, and put them "in a drawer for 10 years," Baker added. "Is that a troll?"
Baker disputed that the company is a patent troll. "Every defendant calls every plaintiff a patent troll," he said. "I've heard IBM called a patent troll. It's one of those terms everyone defines differently."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Personal Technology White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!