EFF targets podcasting patent for invalidation

The digital rights group and the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic hope to end lawsuits by Personal Audio

A 1996 podcasting patent is in the crosshairs of two digital rights groups, which are hoping the public will help them get the patent invalidated.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, partnering with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is asking the public to identify examples of ideas similar to podcasting that were published before Oct. 2, 1996.

A Texas company, Personal Audio, holds 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 April, Personal Audio filed lawsuits asserting its podcasting patent against NBC and CBS, and in January, it filed lawsuits against ACE Broadcasting Network, HowStuffWorks.com and TogiEntertainment.

Personal Audio didn't immediately answer an email seeking comment on the EFF's planned challenge to its patents.

The EFF and the Cyberlaw Clinic are targeting the patent using a new legal tool for challenging existing patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, called the inter partes review. The new challenge was part of the America Invents Act, passed by Congress in 2011.

The EFF is asking the podcasting community to submit evidence of podcasting-type technologies that existed before late 1996, and the group is also asking for funding to fight the patent. The EFF's goal is to end Personal Audio's lawsuit threats, said Daniel Nazer, an EFF staff attorney.

"A podcaster working out of a garage is unlikely to have the financial resources to fight a lawsuit," he said in an email. "Patent trolls like Personal Audio know this and use the threat of ruinous litigation costs as a weapon."

Crowdsourcing is a good way to get ideas on so-called prior art, "especially those that were involved in pioneering early Internet media," he added."The history of the early web is in a lot of different hands and minds -- a public call for prior art can find material we would otherwise miss."

Nazer discounted a suggestion that the patent could be legitimate.

"Episodic internet radio was pioneered in the very early 1990s," he said. "Given the breadth of the patent's claims there may be many other kinds of media to consider as prior art."

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 grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetlegalintellectual propertypatentInternet-based applications and servicesElectronic Frontier FoundationU.S. Patent and Trademark OfficeMusic and audioCBSNBCHowStuffWorks.comACE Broadcasting NetworkDaniel NazerHarvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and SocietyPersonal AudioTogiEntertainment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?