Although patent troll Personal Audio LLC – that is, a non-producing patent holder seeking to extort money from productive, successful businesses – seeks to shakedown podcasters for money, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is fundraising to stop them:
We’d like to enlist your help to fight this troll. One way to defeat a troll is to prove—either in court or at the patent office—that the claimed invention was not new (or was obvious). In other words, show that the patent applicant didn’t really invent anything. To do this, we need to find publications from before October 2, 1996 that disclose similar or identical ideas (this also known as prior art). The best prior art will include publications describing early versions of podcasting or any other kind of episode distribution over the Internet.
EFF is partnering with the Harvard’s Cyberlaw Clinic to investigate a challenge to this patent at the patent office. The most likely procedure will involve a new legal tool called the “Inter partes review” introduced by the America Invents Act. If we are successful in this process, the patent gets invalidated and Personal Audio would be unable to assert it against anybody.
For us to get started, we need your help—the filing fees charged by the US Patent and Trademark Office for this kind of high-impact challenge are relatively steep and there’s no way around them, even for an advocacy non-profit like EFF. If you join us in fighting to save podcasting, we’ll be able to bring a robust case straight to the US Patent and Trademark Office to stop Personal Audio from doing any more damage to online broadcasters.
Threats against podcasting are threats against speech.