Patent trolls allegedly going after podcasters now

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mmntech

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Sep 20, 2007
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Yet another example of patent trolls shaking down a product's end users for money. It's starting to get truly bizarre.

Another day, another patent troll. Or so it seems. The threat of the patent troll is not new—we’ve written about it time and again. But the troubling trend of suing downstream users and content providers really makes us mad. First it was the app developers, then those who scan documents to email. Now, the latest outrage: podcasters. Yes, really. And EFF wants to help organize those facing the threat so that we can guage the size of the problem and hopefully help people find counsel and a way to work together in response.

First, some background. A company called Personal Audio is claiming that it owns a patent that covers podcasting technology and has send podcasters letters, demanding that they pay Personal Audio to use the technology. As with many patents, this one is dangerously broad and vague, allegedly covering, well, any and all podcasting. Just take a look at this language:

Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available…

Of course, as with most software patents, this one fails to explain how that “apparatus” would actually work, apparently letting its owner make the ridiculous claim that essentially any apparatus that disseminates episodes infringes its patent.

So far, Personal Audio has sued some pretty high-profile and beloved podcasts, like the Adam Carolla Show and HowStuffWorks. It also sent its threatening letters demanding a license to numerous podcasters, like Majority Report’s Sam Seder (we got a chance to talk to him a little about the problem on his show here).
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/podcasting-community-faces-patent-troll-threat-eff-wants-help

Sounds like a form of extortion to me.
 

KeithTalent

Elite Member | Administrator | No Lifer
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Nov 30, 2005
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Yeah Leo Laporte called into Carolla's show a short while ago to talk about this and it sounds like they are going to fight this as a group. I'm interested to see how this will work as they were discussing doing something like a Kickstarter, with other podcasters like Rogan and whatnot, to set up a fund to fight this.

KT
 

Sho'Nuff

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Jul 12, 2007
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"Just take a look at this language: Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available…"

Nice that the "journalists" of eff.com decided to quote just the preamble of the first independent claim.

"Of course, as with most software patents, this one fails to explain how that “apparatus” would actually work"

Actually the patent in question goes into a fair amount of detail as to how the claimed invention works. I can't quote the whole spec, so I'll just point to the body of independent claim 1, which recites that the claimed apparatus includes:

"a digital memory,

a communications port coupled to the Internet for transmitting data requests for data identified by specified URLs, for receiving downloaded data identified by said URLs in response to said requests, and for storing said downloaded data in said digital memory,

a processor coupled to said digital memory and to said communications port for performing a sequence of timed update operations, each of said update operations comprising:

downloading via the Internet the current version of a compilation file identified by a predetermined URL and storing said current version of said compilation file in said digital memory, said current version of said compilation file containing attribute data describing one or more episodes of a series of episodes, said attribute data for each given one of said episodes including one or more episode URLs identifying one or more corresponding media files representing said given one of said episodes,

processing the content of said current version of said compilation file to identify attribute data describing one or more newly available episodes in said series of episodes which were not described by attribute data found in a prior version of said compilation file previously identified by said predetermined URL and previously downloaded by an earlier one of said sequence of timed update operations, and

downloading one or more new media files identified by one or more URLs in the attribute data describing said one or more newly available episodes and storing said one or more new media files in said digital memory, and

an output unit for reproducing one or more of the media files representing episodes in said series at the request of the operator of said media player.


Finally, the patent in question has a priority date in 1996. That means two things. First, prior art might to invalidate the patent might not be so easy to find. And second, the patent will expire in 2016, assuming no patent term extension applies.
 
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FelixDeCat

Lifer
Aug 4, 2000
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"Just take a look at this language: Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available…"

Nice that the "journalists" of eff.com decided to quote just the preamble of the first independent claim.

"Of course, as with most software patents, this one fails to explain how that “apparatus” would actually work"

Actually the patent in question goes into a fair amount of detail as to how the claimed invention works. I can't quote the whole spec, so I'll just point to the body of independent claim 1, which recites that the claimed apparatus includes:

"a digital memory,

a communications port coupled to the Internet for transmitting data requests for data identified by specified URLs, for receiving downloaded data identified by said URLs in response to said requests, and for storing said downloaded data in said digital memory,

a processor coupled to said digital memory and to said communications port for performing a sequence of timed update operations, each of said update operations comprising:

downloading via the Internet the current version of a compilation file identified by a predetermined URL and storing said current version of said compilation file in said digital memory, said current version of said compilation file containing attribute data describing one or more episodes of a series of episodes, said attribute data for each given one of said episodes including one or more episode URLs identifying one or more corresponding media files representing said given one of said episodes,

processing the content of said current version of said compilation file to identify attribute data describing one or more newly available episodes in said series of episodes which were not described by attribute data found in a prior version of said compilation file previously identified by said predetermined URL and previously downloaded by an earlier one of said sequence of timed update operations, and

downloading one or more new media files identified by one or more URLs in the attribute data describing said one or more newly available episodes and storing said one or more new media files in said digital memory, and

an output unit for reproducing one or more of the media files representing episodes in said series at the request of the operator of said media player.


Finally, the patent in question has a priority date in 1996. That means two things. First, prior art might to invalidate the patent might not be so easy to find. And second, the patent will expire in 2016, assuming no patent term extension applies.

I wonder how working proof of this "invention" was provided. This process is obvious and natural and will be brought down in court. :colbert:
 

Baked

Lifer
Dec 28, 2004
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The fucking crooked judges are in on this with the troll lawyers and gets a cut of the profit. It's the only reason these shit law suits aren't getting thrown out of court like they should.
 

Anonemous

Diamond Member
May 19, 2003
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Yea this was brought up in the shopping cart patent troll with Newegg.

http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=34551350&postcount=3

Oh yea, some other patent troll is also suing anybody using serial keys.

Uniloc is a patent troll who is claiming they invented the concept of the "serial key", which is pretty much like a product key for Windows. (Yes they did sue Microsoft and won). Uniloc is sueing Mojang because of Minecraft on Android Market, X-Plane 10, and several other companies.
 

Sho'Nuff

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2007
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I wonder how working proof of this "invention" was provided. This process is obvious and natural and will be brought down in court. :colbert:

Obvious and natural based on what? 15 years of hindsight?
 

Sho'Nuff

Diamond Member
Jul 12, 2007
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The fucking crooked judges are in on this with the troll lawyers and gets a cut of the profit. It's the only reason these shit law suits aren't getting thrown out of court like they should.

On what basis would they be thrown out of court? Patent suits are governed by the federal rules of civil procedure. Those rules provide limited mechanisms for a judge to throw a case out. E.g., a judge could throw a case out based on the plaintiff's failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. There are certainly cases that fall under that standard, but not too many patent cases.
 
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