Five years ago, a patent troll called "Personal Audio" started demanding money from podcasters, claiming that their patent on mailing cassette tapes of people reading magazines (a ridiculous patent on its face) also covered podcasting.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation crowdfunded tens of thousands of dollars from podcasting fans to challenge the patent, and the patent troll retaliated by filing privacy-invading motions to draw out the litigation, funding their war-chest by racking up million-plus awards from big companies found to have violated their ridiculous patent.
In 2015, the US Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the Personal Audio patent's key claims. Naturally, the troll appealed and yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the USPTO's ruling that the patent was invalid, driving a final stake through the heart of the shakedown operation.
Personal Audio challenged the Patent Office decision, but the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with us that the patent did not represent an invention, and podcasting was known before Personal Audio's patent was applied for.
"We're pleased that the Federal Circuit agreed that the podcasting patent is invalid," said Daniel Nazer, Staff Attorney at EFF and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. "We appreciate all the support the podcasting community gave in fighting this bad patent."
"Although we're happy that this patent is still invalid, Personal Audio could seek review at the Supreme Court," said Vera Ranieri, Staff Attorney at EFF. "We'll be there if they do."