State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Adam Carolla and the Podcast Patents: The Real Story

Adam Carolla is being sued by Personal Audio LLC and has created a FundAnything (crowdfunding site) campaign to raise money for his legal defense.  He is billing this dispute as a patent that will kill off podcasting.  This is the sort hyperbole people who don’t want to pay inventors engage in.  Note Mr. Carolla wants to be paid for his intellectual property.  Since Mr. Carolla is making the standard arguments against inventors who attempt to enforce their property rights, I will examine some of the arguments below.

1.  The inventor will not receive any of the profit from this lawsuit, only a shell company, whose only purpose is to sue people.

One of the inventors on the patent is a serial entrepreneur and is an owner of Personal Audio LLC who is suing Adam Carolla.  James Logan founded MicroTouch Systems in the 80s and served on the on the Board of Directors of Andover.net, the company that acquired Slashdot back in 1999.  He founded, Personal Audio, in 1996.  The original company was Personal Audio Inc. and the patents are now owned by Personal Audio, LLC.  Personal Audio invested $1.6 million developing this technology.  As Mr. Logan points out, when inventors are paid for their inventions it reduces the risk of investing in new technologies.  This increases the willingness of investors to put money into inventions, which results in more advances in technology.  In addition, Mr. Logan explained that he and the company want to see podcasting thrive, because that will maximize their profit.  Killing off podcasting is not the goal of or in the interest of Personal Audio.  Mr. Carolla statements to the contrary are just nonsense.

 

Conclusion: Adam Carolla is spewing BS.

 

 

2.  The inventor never made anything.

As the inventor, James Logan, points out Tesla never made anything either.  Most of Edison’s inventions were sold to companies and he produced nothing, the same can be said of Bell and many of the great inventors of the US.  Mr. Logan points out that many inventors have no interest in manufacturing, marketing, distribution etc.  But today’s system forces inventors to work for a company.  You would think someone in the media would have read Adam Smith and understand division of labor.

In the late 1800s it was quite common for people to specialize in inventing and over 85% of those inventors who obtained a patent eventually sold or licensed it to a manufacturer.  Today the attack on inventors mean that even when inventors have a valid, issued patent that has been upheld in court (Personal Audio v. Apple), people like Mr. Carolla, argue they have the right to steal other people’s inventions.

Note that Mr. Carolla never makes anything.  He sells his comedy, which is just a bunch of words, until a recording device and a transmission device turns that into a product.  Perhaps actors and comedians should not be paid either.

Imagine if actors and authors could not sell their creations without first having a company turn them into a book, movie, or recording?  That is exactly what Mr. Carolla is advocating.

 

Conclusion: Adam Carolla is spewing BS.

 

 

3.  The invention was created by other people independently.

This is a common argument by people who don’t want to pay inventors.  The patent in question was applied for in 1996 and the Patent Office divided the original patent application into three or more patents.  The first patent issued in 2001, so the world has known about this technology for a long time.  This makes the claim of independent invention absurd.  But on top of that according to Mr. Logan these patents have been cited in over 1300 other patents.  Clearly the world was aware of his technology.  The idea of independent invention without knowledge of Personal Audio’s invention is absurd.   The US had a system for disputes between nearly simultaneous inventions until the passage of the American Invents not Act in 2011 and this process was rarely invoked.  The infrequency of this process was a major argument for changing our laws from a first to invent to a first to file.  Independent invention is a diversionary argument, to distract from the fact that people like Carolla want to steal other people’s work.

 

Conclusion: Adam Carolla is spewing BS.

 

 

4.  The patent is not valid and is overly broad.

This is a favorite of the leaches who do not want to pay inventors.  This patent was applied for in 1996.  No one had thought about podcasts at that time.  Few were thinking about sending large files or streaming files.  A high speed modem at the time was 64Kbaud and compression techniques were much more limited.  This invention was ahead of its time so it is very unlikely that there is prior art to invalidate this patent.  As a result of the invention being ahead of its time, it can validly ask for and receive fairly broad claims.  However, the claims do not cover all podcasts, as the hyperbole of Mr. Carolla and other suggest, they are directed to playlists.

Personal Audio LLC sued Apple over these same patents and won.  Apple already raised these issues in court and lost.  It is complete nonsense to suggest that these patents are overly broad and should never have been issued, without providing specific evidence that was not raised by Apple.  Clearly, Mr. Carolla has no respect for the law and more importantly no respect for inventors.

 

Conclusion: Adam Carolla is spewing BS.

 

 

5.  The Patent was applied for on March 4, 2009 and granted on February 7, 2012

This comes from TechDirt which has no compunction about lying about patents.  The patent was filed for in 1996.  TechDirt then argues that the Patent Office is allowing patents too fast.  Imagine if you built a house, bought a stock, or a car and it took three years to obtain title to it.  You would think you were living in a third world country, which is exactly what is happening to inventors.

 

 

 

Mr. Carolla is a hypocrite who thinks artists should be paid for their work, but not INVENTORS.  I bet if I start selling copies of Mr. Carolla’s performances he would sue me in a nanosecond.  He would talk about how I was stealing his work, but inventors are supposed to work for nothing.  Note all the above arguments apply to actors/comedians as well as inventors.

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March 26, 2014 Posted by | -Law, News, Patents | , , , , | 63 Comments