Patent Reform isn’t Going to Save the Podcasts

If you don’t know what a podcast is — don’t click away. Just because you don’t know what a podcast is, doesn’t mean patent reform isn’t important to you. Patent reform is important to everyone because it effects the American economy, as well as it threatens inventors, investors and entrepreneurs. Patent reform is threatening the very fabric of intellectual property, including the people it’s supposed to protect.

What is Patent Reform?

Patent reform began as a response to Patent Assertion Entities, or patent trolls (these soulless criminals hold patents, but don’t make products. Their goal is to extort money from actual originators). Victims of trolling have demanded that the government do more to reform the laws that govern patents. Unfortunately, most patent reform legislation is bad legislation because it uses broad language, which seeks to undermine and destroy all patent holders.

According to a recent patent reform infographic, created by savetheinventor.com, legitimate patent holders will suffer more under the introduced bills than patent trolls will. In fact, patent trolls aren’t affected at all under the new legislation, so they can continue trolling hardworking Americans, while legitimate innovators will suffer.

What Does This Have to Do With Podcasts?

Podcasts are being threatened by patent trolls. Personal Audio holds an unfocused patent on a magazines-on-tape idea that originated in the 1990s and essentially went nowhere. It had nothing to do with the Internet, and yet Personal Audio asserts that podcasts should have to pay them royalties. According to The Epoch Times, “…the company stopped functioning in 1998 – except to assert its patent rights.”

Personal Audio is only targeting the country’s most successful podcasts, such as America’s #1 podcast, The Adam Carolla Show. Carolla’s success is the exact reason the comedian is among Personal Audio’s first targets. If Personal Audio is successful in court with their attempt at patent trolling, all podcasts are in danger of being sued or permanently closed down. But, if Carolla agrees to pay $3 million to Personal Audio, they’ll leave his podcast alone and move on to their next victim. Their hope, as is the hope with all patent trolls, is that Carolla will agree to settle out of court.

Patent reform should help to deter this sort of crooked, extortionist behavior, but it doesn’t. And, new legislation won’t help either because its language is entirely too broad, and truly targets legitimate innovators. The only thing patent reform protects are the market shares of corporations. In fact, operating companies are overwhelmingly responsible for the patent infringement lawsuits from 2007 – 2011.

Think about that for a moment. These bills/legislations are designed to deter patent trolls, but in truth they only serve to promote more lawsuits from corporate entities. This means, more corporations will have the ability to target inventors for their innovations, especially if those innovations threaten to improve on a product the corporation is already selling. And, how do patent trolls fare in this new patent-reformed world? They fare just fine, being that they’re not even named in the legislation. Blanket terms are used to describe offenders, which means that legitimate innovators are being looped in with trolls. In truth, patent trolls will be completely unaffected by this new legislation, which means podcasts can still be sued by the patent troll, Personal Audio.

If you’re interested in saving the podcasts, and thus contributing to the overall benefit of the entire country, it’s time to ask your congressman to do the right thing because current legislation is only going to hinder innovation and benefit crooked corporations bent on controlling and profiting from and/or stifling the intellectual property of others.

Starting a Business? Manage Your Credit

Although the job market has improved significantly since 2008, competition is still intense and today’s graduates face high unemployment rates. In a 2010 study released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 24.4 percent of graduates had a job waiting for them after graduation. Although that number is up from 19.7 percent in 2009, and the 2013 numbers could be even higher, that still leaves a significant number of graduates unemployed.

Additionally, many of these recent college graduates are also facing a lot of debt, which makes finding a job that much more important.

Entrepreneurship as a Solution

Rather than put all of their hopes on the possibility of finding employment, many recent graduates are creating their own futures by starting small businesses or working as independent contractors or freelancers.

Depending on the type of business, it is possible to become an entrepreneur with relatively low overhead and startup costs. For example, you could start a freelance writing business for little more than the cost of a computer, a good office suite (like Microsoft Office), internet access, and a website.

On the other hand, if you start a business like a food truck, or a bakery, your costs could be significantly higher and you might need to take out a small business loan.

Small Business Loans

Small business loans make it possible for entrepreneurs to access the funds they need to start and grow their businesses. These loans could be smaller than the loans that large, established, corporations receive, and they could also have lower interest rates.

These loans are available through private banks, government entities, and even through major corporations looking to invest in new companies. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) has a wealth of information on how to find small business loans. The SBA also has as a list of loans, grants, and possible investors.

Qualifying for a Loan

Qualifying for a loan depends on the institution servicing the loan, but most lenders will require you to submit a both a personal as well as a business credit history. If your business is brand new, or does not have a credit history, then whether or not you qualify for a loan will depend entirely on your personal credit.

As we stated before, many college students are graduating with debts. In fact, the average college student graduates with $35,200 in debt. Some of these debts are government or private student loans, but another portion of them are personal loans and credit cards.

Having a large amount of debt, or a lot of credit account, even if you are current on your bills, can actually look bad in a credit review and ruin your chances of getting a small business loan.

This is why it’s important to effectively manage your credit.

Managing Your Credit.

If you have multiple student loans, you can often consolidate them. This makes five loans, and five different loan accounts, look like one single account. Loan consolidation can also adjust your interest rate and give you lower monthly payments, all of which look better on a credit report.

If you have multiple personal loans and credit cards, you can work with a credit counseling company to negotiate better rates and even consolidate some of the debt. Many of these companies have a proven track record of successful negotiations with creditors, and have offices across the country. These offices can also communicate with each other and share information.

For example, let’s say you attend Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, but your permanent home is in Binghamton, New York. To get a leg up on your credit, you can start working with a company like Lexington Law in Salt Lake City before you graduate. Then, after graduation, you can continue working with the office in Binghamton, or wherever you end up.

Then, if you decide to take out a small business loan, you will already have cleaned up your credit history and improved your chances of qualifying.