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.