The audio program player set forth in claim 23 wherein said display screen displays the displayable text describing said particular audio recording file when said particular audio recording file is being reproduced.
I really don't understand how the USPTO approves claims filed in 2009 that describe concepts which were in peoples hands for the preceding five years. Perhaps those will be the first claims invalidated, but it just further highlights the mind-boggling logic of the USPTO.
Basically what is patented here is the displaying of some information on a screen. How on earth can something like that be considered a patent?
The backlog used to be problematic along the lines you're thinking, but they adjusted the rules in 1995.
Another part of the problem is that patent examiners are required to examine X number of patents per unit time. Unfortunately, when a patent applicant resubmits a rejected application, the patent examiner does not get credit for examining the patent a second time. So an applicant can troll the patent examiner by repeatedly modifying the application. The examiner becomes so overwhelmed with resubmitted applications that he or she has no choice but to approve the application in order to meet quota.
The result of these rules is that a patent examiner effectively can't reject a patent application unless someone has already tried to patent the exact same thing. Or, "blame the game, not the player."
This is exactly it. It sounds like a joke, but the USPTO's definition of "non-obvious" actually boils down to "isn't already patented". (Allegedly -- I admit this is hearsay, and I hope it is just some joke.)
The problem is that the criteria is terrible for validating software patents. I don't even believe any criteria for validating software patents would actually encourage innovation in software.
The problem, as I understand it, is that they don't cast their net all that widely, and how they do cast their net doesn't really correspond very well with the way most informed people think about such issues.
In all the cases I've seen, they've cited other patents as evidence of prior art, where the other patent is pretty obviously similar (lots of the same keywords etc). On the other hand, stuff that's so incredibly obvious and widespread that nobody never even considered patenting it before might get through easily, 'cause you know, no prior patents... ><
[I have a Japanese patent, and an attempt to get the same patent in the US was rejected by the USPTO (after years of back-and-forth...) because of prior US patents.]
Just wondering what the qualifications are for working in the USPTO are. Do you have to be fully cut off from the modern world and be strongly against innovation?
How is it even possible to patent such fundamental concepts? I bet they would approve a patent for "A system for transferring audio to the ears via vibrations in the surrounding air (sound waves)" AKA speakers. Then you could sue not just the podcasters, but the listeners too.
Good enough to send out shakedown letters, and see how much cash rolls in!
The patent being used against podcasters:
Another patent referenced in their press release that won an $8mil judgement against Apple in 2011 and is now licensed by "Samsung, Amazon, Motorola, RIM, Sirius, and others":
This seems to me a scheme of reinventing existing inventions with the injection of paraphrases and more sentences. It's not even "X on a network" or "X on a computer" any more, it's just a vague reiteration of technology already in use for years, if not a decade or more.
The entire patent system is a convoluted web of things which potentially exist which in turn is built on a deeper layer of things which potentially exist and so on... and how exactly is innovation supposed to happen when a non-trivial percentage of the links on those interconnected web are based on obvious things that should have been rejected?
If the USPTO is willing to grant ridiculous patents that it shouldn't, then the SHIELD act would seem to not make much of a difference at all. It seems to me that the prior art should be a non-issue to produce considering people have been making tutorials on how to make podcasts since '04/'05, but as long as the patents are being erroneously assigned, the SHIELD act will provide very little protection from these types of patent trolls.
More comprehensive reform would probably include a ban on patents in software, or at least a much, much shorter patent period for software and similar domains of invention that move much more quickly than, say, pharmaceutical development and approval.
For a patent covering a trivial software idea, it's ludicrous.
I'd be happy with a system that gives five years by default, using the current process. Twenty years only if you can easily prove non-obviousness and significant research investment.
Yes, the SHIELD act is treating the symptom, not the cause.
Such objective evidence could consist of successful publication in a peer-reviewed journal, for example, or of providing published references that say that the problem being attacked is known to be difficult, or of showing that others have tried to solve the problem and failed.
In short, the burden of proof needs to be on the applicant to prove nonobviousness, not on the examiner (or the defendants in a lawsuit) to prove obviousness.
Would it be reasonable to require "due diligence" on the part of the patent holder in order for a patent to be considered valid? In other words, if they have shown no interest in protecting their intellectual property in the face of long-standing and widely known "violations," it seems that a situation could apply that would work in a way analogous to the idea of piercing the corporate veil. Patent holders who have sat idly by as the violations of their patents (pending or otherwise) have gained notoriety and fame have demonstrated a lack of desire to pursue the technology, and are obviously just using it as a get rich quick scheme.
The idea here would be that, in this case, Personal Audio would have had to protect the rights to their setup as soon as it became reasonably evident that violations could be occurring (maybe the birth of iTunes or something). That would have been many years ago, before podcasting became popular. At that point, there's little profit in a lawsuit other than actually stopping someone from stealing an idea, so it's not so much of a bank account booster.
This just occurred to me, so I apologize if it's been discussed and demolished before -- it does seem that it would help to prevent this sort of surprise attack from happening without harming actual legitimate patent holders (they will pursue their rights early and often regardless of this idea being implemented).
Google has done for Usenet what Caliph Omar did for the Library of Alexandria.
Google should give the archive to archive.org or similar if they don't want to use it.
Patent trolls have become so ubiquitous that articles like these are no longer shocking.
I can see how a company like Apple, which does provide an "An audio program and message distribution system in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations." That's what iTunes does, not say, the Adam Corolla podcast. He doesn't run the message distribution system, he merely uses that distribution system.
Every single one of the patent's claims talks about the player itself, or the endpoint of distribution. At no time is the media itself being distributed claimed, which is what podcasters do. They create the media, your computer plays it.
They didn't patent podcasting, they patented podcast players. What court would give a shit about this re: podcast producers?
Edit: I read somewhere in all this that the patent was filed in 1996? According to http://www.google.com/patents/US8112504, it was filed in 2009. 2009!
Specifically this part is the part I don't think ACE Broadcasting Network (Adam Corolla, et al.) violates:
employing one of said one or more communication interfaces to:
IANAL though, so... yeah. :-/
a) receive a request for the current version of the RSS feed ("compilation file")
b) transfer the RSS feed to the client
c) receive and respond to a request from the client for audio files linked to from the RSS feed
This appears to be a correct description of a web server hosting a podcast. I'm also not a lawyer, but I do see a possible loophole in that the claim describes a single machine serving both the feed and the audio files. If the audio is hosted on a separate server or a CDN, it wouldn't violate my reading of the claim. (If that's what you meant, then I guess we agree.) Of course, that's the kind of detail that would need to be hashed out in court before I'd trust it.
Comcast doesn't get sued by the RIAA for delivering packets which contain pirated music, for example.
Simply not do ANY ONE OF THE following:
> "series of episodes"
So a single episode and you may avoid infringement
> "performing, from time to time, one of a sequence of update operations"
So eliminate periodic operations, or sequence of updates and you may avoid infringement
> "each of said update operations comprising: downloading via the Internet the current version of a compilation file identified by a predetermined known URL"
So either don't identify using known URL (admittedly not likely but worth mentioning), avoid what they defined "compilation file" to be, or even avoid "predetermined" and you may avoid infringement
> ", and storing attribute data contained in said current version of said compilation file in said digital memory, said attribute data describing one or more episodes in a series of episodes"
Now it starts sounding like "compilation file" is more than just a mp3 file. So the first support I find (CTRL-F is your friend) related is:
> "The download compilation file 145, though represented as a single file in FIG. 1, preferably takes the form of one or more subscriber and session specific files which contain the identification of separately stored sharable files. By way of example, the recommended order and the identification of the program files making up an individual playback session are stored in a session schedule file (to be described in detail in connection with FIG. 5) which contains program identifiers of the program segments to be played during an upcoming session. The player 103 downloads the session schedule file and then issues download requests for those identified program segment files which are not already available in the player's local storage unit 107."
Add to this, FIG. 5 and FIG. 6, and it looks like compilation file includes one or more things like indexes, transcripts, condensed content, topic description, paragraphs, etc...
So avoiding this "compilation file" is probably their best bet - just serve straight up mp3 files and you may avoid infringement but compile mp3 into these "compilation files" and you're infringing.
What troubles me is that I'm not an expert but yet have found plenty of options for Carolla/etc to avoid this (and relatively cheaply). So who's the patent lawyer giving Carolla advice to fight this? Probably the EFF as part of their anti-patent propaganda.
The described mechanism is how podcasting has worked for over a decade and it is wholly unrealistic to expect everyone to preemptively engineer around an overbroad patent that was only granted last year.