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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, is declaring war on a company claiming it made the podcast possible.EFF said Tuesday it was organising companies that face threats from patent trolls – a derogatory term for companies that earn most of their money from patent licensing or litigation.
“Another day, another patent troll,” EFF said. “Or so it seems.”
There’s one alleged troll that’s drawing the ire of EFF: Personal Audio, which says it invented the technology that enables podcasting.
Personal Audio said recently it was suing ACE Broadcasting Network, HowStuffWorks.com, and TogiEntertainment for allegedly infringing its “podcasting patent.”
ACE produces the popular Adam Carolla comedy podcast.
EFF called out Personal Audio for suing “beloved podcasts” and called its podcasting patent “dangerously broad and vague.”
This phrase from Personal Audio’s patent sparked EFF’s outrage: “Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available.”
Here’s what EFF had to say:
“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 any apparatus that disseminates its episode infringes its patent.”
Personal Audio Vice President of Licensing Richard Baker responds to that allegation by pointing out that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office duly issued the podcast patent.
Baker also objects to the characterization of his company as a troll of some kind.
Jim Logan, who started Personal Audio, did the research and development necessary to come up with the podcasting patent back in 1996, Baker told Business Insider.
“It’s not a company that goes out and buys patents,” he added. “This is an inventer trying to feed his family.”
Logan is apparently doing a pretty job of doing that.
In July 2011, a Texas court told Apple to fork over $8 million after a jury found the tech giant infringed Personal Audio’s patents for downloadable playlists, Bloomberg reported.