Crowd-backed EFF files to kill off ‘podcast patent’

Public donates $76,000 to take on patent troll

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Having amassed a war chest of $76,000 in public donations and identified crucial "prior art," the Electronic Frontier Foundation yesterday filed a formal challenge aimed at killing a patent being wielded by Personal Audio LLC against podcasters such as "The Adam Carolla Show" and "How Stuff Works."

The appeal to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office marks EFF's first legal action since announcing a crowdsourcing effort called "Help Save Podcasting" back in May.

 From an EFF press release:

"As we show in our petition, Personal Audio is not the true inventor of this technology and should not be demanding a payout from today's podcasters," EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer said. "If you look into the history of podcasting, you won't see anything about Personal Audio."

Today's petition shows that Personal Audio did not invent anything new, and, in fact, other people were podcasting years before Personal Audio first applied for a patent. In preparation for this filing, EFF solicited help from the public to find prior art, or earlier examples of podcasting. In the petition, EFF cites three examples: Internet Pioneer Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" online radio show and online broadcasts by CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

So how does Personal Audio defend its patent and enforcement efforts? Podcaster Ira Glass, host of This American Life, and Zoe Chace of NPR interviewed the company's principals, Jim Logan and Richard Baker, in May, and Logan said: "We didn't use these words back then, but buried within that patent description were ideas such as playlists and podcasting. ... I put my dollars and time and energy on the line. I took the risk."

Here's that interview:

And here is the EFF's 69-page filing:

More information about the "Help Save Podcasting" campaign can be found here.

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