What is a Patent Troll?
A bit of an unusual post today, but one I needed to write. We’ve all heard the term patent troll, and often hear of the legal headaches that come from them. What they really do is acquire very broad patents and then go after whoever they can legally and threaten lawsuits. Once targeted by a troll, a large majority of those sued, end up settling and paying a fee or licensing fee rather than going through the hurdles and extra expense of a legal battle. When you are sued by a patent troll, the burden of proof is on you and minimal fees are usually at least $2MM. Ouch.
Patent Trolls Target Podcasts
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning and became aware that there is a patent troll going after podcasters. The company Personal Audio LLC has already won high profile cases against Apple (awarded $8MM) has entered licensing agreements with Sirius XM Radio, Samsung, Amazon, and Motorola and others after lawsuits. Now they have acquired a new patent and have started targeting high-profile podcasters like Adam Carolla and the howstuffworks series.If they are successful, it puts all podcasters, large and small at risk and could see us paying licensing fees or worse for our own podcasts.
What can you do?
Please go to Eff.org/shield and contact your local representatives about supporting the Shield Act. The Shield Act would require patent trolls to pay all legal fees for the parties they sue should they lose the case. It’s not ideal, but it is good step in the right direction.
If you are a podcaster or if you are a fan of podcasting, I encourage you to act today.
Bonus: here is a great TED talk from Drew Curtis of Fark.com, who successfully won a battle against a patent troll.