Settlement Is Encouraging Sign for Podcast Producers

Aug 18, 2014 4:15 PM PST

BEAUMONT, Texas — In an encouraging sign for operators of podcasts, including the scores who operate adult entertainment-themed ones, patent troll Personal Audio has dropped its lawsuit against Adam Carolla, the comedian and former radio personality who ventured into the format several years ago.

The lawsuit, dropped on Friday, had alleged that Carolla infringed on its patent for delivering episodic online content.

If the case had gone to trial, Carolla planned to argue that Personal Audio's patent was invalid because the so-called podcast invention was described or made obvious by other people’s work before Personal Audio filed its patent.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation today said that Carolla and everyone who donated to a defense war chest he set up "deserves massive credit for putting up such a strong fight."

"The podcasting community showed that it would not be shaken down," the EFF said. "Patent litigation is very expensive and most troll targets settle early just to avoid the cost of defense. By fighting back, Carolla forced Personal Audio to actually mount a case and establish that it deserved money. That turned out to be too hard for the troll.

"Carolla is the one of the most successful podcasters in the business. If suing him makes no economic sense, then it makes no sense to sue any podcaster."

But the EFF also said that because the parties came to a settlement, Carolla loses the opportunity to invalidate the patent and have Personal Audio pay his legal fees.

"For now, the TV companies are still in the case and are headed to trial in September," the EFF said. "If they don’t settle, and they win on invalidity, then they would also defeat Personal Audio for the entire public.

"And EFF’s challenge at the Patent Office will continue. So Personal Audio’s claim to own podcasting is not necessarily saved by this settlement."

The EFF's case is before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. EFF is on schedule for a hearing in December with a ruling likely by April 2015. Carolla’s settlement does not impact the EFF's case.

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