Continuing to keep its shiva hands full and not content with just tackling the videogame industry, the EFF has just helped to win a decision with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that invalidates the "podcasting patent" held by Personal Audio LLC, a Texas-based patent trolling firm. Personal Audio LLC is famous for having squeezed $8 mn from Apple Inc. in 2011 for the fruit company's use of "navigable playlists" on its iPod music players, as well as having sued American comedian Adam Corolla for distributing podcasts, only to be counter-sued before the two parties quietly settled.
EFF Staff Attorney and holder of the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents,1 Daniel Nazer, said “We’re grateful for all the support of our challenge to this patent. Today is a big victory for the podcasting community.” Nazer and his colleagues were successful in petitioning the USPTO by demonstrating that shows such as Carl Malamud's "Geek of the Week" as well as online shows hosted by US cable network CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) pre-dated Personal Audio's 1996 patent. In doing so, the EFF was successful in arguing that the "podcast patent" amounted to the patenting of any website that could be updated to include media links, which is obviously absurd.
In agreeing with the EFF petition, the USPTO has ordered that claims 31–35 of U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504 B2 are unpatentable. This decision should be a sigh of relief for podcasters everywhere, even if they arguably don't discuss anything of value.
The full USPTO decision is available on the EFF's website.
This peculiarly named chair position was created in 2012 after Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban and Minecraft creator Markus Persson contributed $500,000 to the EFF for the cause. It's still unclear why the position doesn't bear the names of both Mark and Markus as each contributed exactly half the funding. ↩