09.19.14

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Scanning Patent Troll Implodes; Is the Podcasting Patent Troll Next?

Posted in Patents at 3:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: MPHJ loses and Personal Audio LLC perhaps wins for the last time since software patents are quickly losing legitimacy in the United States

While the corporate press (and CAFC) carries on glorifying patents (for its own profit interests) a lot of the public increasingly realises that the role of patents is to merely elevate prices of products and services. It either helps billionaires or trolls. MPHJ, one of the most notorious trolls in recent years, is losing its teeth after a case that was not settled. Is this the coming end of more such trolls? Joe Mullin covered this wonderful news:

There are hundreds of so-called “patent trolls,” but MPHJ Technology became one of the most well-known when it sent thousands of letters to small businesses around the country suggesting they should pay around $1,000 per worker for using basic “scan-to-email” functions.

This trial, for a change, was not stationed in Texas.

We recently wrote about the demise of some very big trolls owing to a Supreme Court ruling. Here is another infamous troll to keep an eye on. It recently got money from CBS because “A jury in Marshall, Texas found the infamous “podcasting patent” was infringed by CBS’s website today and said that the TV network should pay $1.3 million to patent holder Personal Audio LLC.

“The verdict form shows the jury found all four claims of the patent infringed, rejecting CBS’ defense that the patent was invalid. The document was submitted today at 1:45pm Central Time.”

But wait. That was in Texas, the capital of trolls. There seems to have been a challenge in the way. As the same site put it some days beforehand:

Jim Logan is an archetype in the patent world—he personifies the great American invention story. In 1996, Logan says, he had a brilliant idea: a digital music player that would automatically update with new episodes. Think iPod, five years before the iPod.

“Our product concept, which spawned the patent, was all about a handheld MP3 player that could download off the Internet some kind of personalized audio experience,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an April interview. “We designed that, we prototyped it, we went to investors trying to raise money to produce the product, and we were not successful.”

This was going to trial (for a change) and given that it is a software patent, the Alice case could be used to put an end to it. But it didn’t. Not this time around. The EFF will hopefully use the Alice case in challenging this troll and putting an end to it. One CCIA front says we should “expect another flood of troll suits to be filed in November of next year, if history is any guide.” Given the recent trend of software patents and patent trolls failing, however, there is little reason to believe they will succeed, let alone try. Whenever they fail it opens the gate to more failures, by means/virtue of precedence.

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