9 Jun 2013

CBS and NBC being sued over podcasting

10:07 am on 9 June 2013

A company which claims it invented podcasting, is suing CBS and NBC in the United States for intellectual property infringement.

Personal Audio does not make anything, but has a group of patents that describe podcasting, based on a description it filed with the US Patent Office in 1996.

Critics say the company is a patent troll. A Boston University study found that in 2011 alone, patent trolls cost businesses $US29 billion in the United States and the number of cases is ballooning each year.

Personal Audio won $US8 million from Apple last year for breaching its patent on playlists for personal media players.

It also has licensing agreements with Samsung, Motorola, Sony and LG, which arose when Personal Audio sued them for breaching its patent.

Now, the ABC reports the company is going after CBS and NBC, as well as others, for infringing its patent on podcasting.

Personal Audio has also written to dozens of smaller podcasters telling them that they, too, are in breach.

Jim Logan says his company is definitely not a patent troll.

"We are the inventors. We came up with the idea," he said.

"We put (inaudible) equity and hard earned dollars behind the effort to come up with personalised audio back in the 90s.

"It didn't pan out and we're just trying to basically recoup our investment on the other end by getting some value from patents."

The ABC reports Mr Logan would not say exactly how many podcasters Personal Audio has written to or how much they are asking them to pay in licensing fees, but he did say amateurs will not be approached.

"We haven't really publicised our licensing model yet, but we probably will be in the next few weeks," he said.

"(Amateurs) will probably never hear from us because it's just impractical to reach that broad an audience."

According to lawyer Daniel Nazer, who is currently defending a case brought by Personal Audio, the choice for businesses to pay patent trolls often becomes a business decision.

"(The choice is to) pay $US2 million to defend (it)or (pay) $US100,000 in settlement," Mr Nazer said.