Personal Audio has been threatening the podcast world for a while -- the longtime patent troll claims that it invented the concept of podcasting, and has insisted that some bigger productions (such as Adam Carolla's) either cough up licensing money or face lawsuits. You may not have to worry about your favorite series going off the air in the future, though. US patent officials have nixed some of the core claims of Personal Audio's "podcasting patent" after the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out podcast-like shows that were running before the patent even existed. Some aspects of episodic online audio are just too obvious to be patentable, according to the finding.
The move doesn't guarantee that Personal Audio will stop misusing the patent in the future. However, it does steal the thunder from the company's legal campaign. The firm will have a far tougher time chasing after podcasters going forward, and there are at least some victims (including broadcasters like CBS) that will probably be upset that they lost or settled lawsuits over a patent that didn't really hold up. In short, you shouldn't have to worry that a hit like Serial will be knocked offline because of someone's greed.
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