Tech

EFF Defeats Patent Troll’s Podcast Lawsuit That Silenced Adam Carolla

The Supreme Court dismissed a case on Monday involving an infamous patent troll that claimed to own podcasting and previously sued libertarian comedian Adam Carolla.

Instead of producing its own goods or services, a patent troll profits off suing or threatening to sue companies or individuals for violating a usually broad and wide-reaching patent it owns.

Personal Audio LLC defeated Apple in a 2011 lawsuit, according to its website. Apple had violated U.S. Patent 6,199,076, which was a patent for an “audio program player including a dynamic program selection controller,” the lawsuit found.

Personal Audio LLC also owns U.S. Patent 8,112,504. That patent is a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence.” The abstract claims it is “an audio program and message distribution system in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations.”

Patent troll Personal Audio LLC began suing companies, such as CNN and Samsung, for violating its patent in 2013. It was successful in its lawsuit against Adam Carolla’s podcast producers, Lotzi Digital, Inc. (RELATED: Digital Rights Coalition Slams Facebook, Google’s ‘Secret Algorithms’)

Rather than pony-up coercion money, Carolla raised $500,000 to fight back. The case ceased in 2014 when both parties settled for an undisclosed amount of money, but Carolla had to agree to a “quiet period” wherein he couldn’t talk about the case and gave up his ability to have them pay his fees, which the EFF says would be a “huge deterrent to future litigation from Personal Audio.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital rights nonprofit, challenged the patent in 2013 to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In 2015, EFF won the case and the PTAB overruled Personal Audio’s previous patent violation lawsuits.

Personal Audio appealed the decision, and again in August, the decision was upheld. The patent trolls tried and failed yet again to overrule the decision — this time at the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court made its decision, it finalized the PTAB’s.

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