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Notorious podcasting troll settles patent suit with comedian Adam Carolla

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Patent trolls are about as popular as ticks or tapeworms but, even by this standard, Personal Audio LLC is especially reviled. The East Texas-based shell company, which doesn’t produce anything but lawsuits, decided an old patent gave it a monopoly on “episodic content” and the right to sue every podcaster in the country.

On Monday, a legal filing confirmed that the troll met its match in Adam Carolla, a popular comedian who decided to wage a legal counter-attack against Personal Audience and stomp its patent into the ground with the help of a crowd-funded legal defense fund.

In a court filing in East Texas federal court, Carolla and the troll stated they would dismiss all claims against each other and, for now, to keep their mouth shut about what exactly happened:

“With the exception of the press release announcing the settlement that has been approved by the Court, Personal Audio, Lotzi [Carolla’s company] and the Partnership shall not make any public statements, issue any press releases or otherwise issue public comments,” read a court filing, which was reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As the EFF points out, however, the filing is not all good news since it will leave Personal Audio and its patent alive, and will also preclude Carolla from sticking the troll with its legal bills.

Unfortunately, this is all to common when it comes to patent trolls: even when their victims win, they lose. Despite Carolla’s vow last month not to settle, it appears that he grew weary of the fight — perhaps recognizing it would be a long-shot to recover his legal fees in the patent troll paradise of East Texas.

The upshot is that Personal Audio didn’t succeed in its shakedown against Carolla, but nor will it pay anything for losing. Such are the economics of patent trolling: shell companies can file quick and dirty lawsuits at little cost to the troll, but that can be ruinously expensive for the victim to defend. As a result, the victims decide to pay up or settle, and the troll moves on to the next target.

There are, at least, a few bright spots in this case. The EFF, for instance, is pressing on with a related legal campaign to invalidate Personal Audio’s patent and defang it for good, and the settlement with Carolla is a reminder that trolls can be driven away. More broadly, there are already signs that a recent Supreme Court case that makes it easier to collect legal fees from trolls is having some effect.

Still the situation remains unsatisfactory. While certain trolls suffer setbacks, the overall business model remains intact, thanks in no small part to Senate Democrats’ failure to pass a patent reform bill this spring. This means that companies, including podcasters, will have to simply hope that the trolls will give up on their greed, and move onto real businesses instead.

2 Responses to “Notorious podcasting troll settles patent suit with comedian Adam Carolla”

  1. ‘The East Texas-based shell company, which doesn’t produce anything but lawsuits…’

    That’s typical dissembling by invention thieves and their paid puppets.

    infringers and their paid puppets definition of ‘patent troll’:

    anyone who sues us for stealing their invention

    Can you say dissemble? All this talk about trolls and so called ‘patent reform’ is just spin control by large infringers and their paid puppets to cover up their theft. Those who use the amorphous phrase ‘patent troll’ expose themselves as thieves, duped, or doped.

    Property rights and jobs in America are now hanging from a frayed thread. These changes are killing our small and startup firms and the jobs they would have created. When government fails to uniformly and justly enforce property rights they promote unrest, lawlessness, and insurrection. Some in Congress and the White House continue to follow the lead of their giant multinational campaign donors like lambs…pulling America along to the slaughter.

    The patent system now teeters on the brink of lawlessness. Call it what you will…patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to stop or pay”. It’s a pure red herring by large invention thieves and their paid puppets to kill any inventor support system. Their goal is to legalize theft. The fact is, many of the large multinationals and their puppets who defame inventors in this way themselves make no products in the US or create any American jobs and it is their continued blatant theft which makes it impossible for the true creators to do so. To infringers the only patents that are legitimate are their own -if they have any. Meanwhile, the huge multinationals ship more and more US jobs overseas.

    It’s about property rights. They should not only be for the rich and powerful -campaign contributors. America’s founders: Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others felt so strongly about the rights of inventors that they recognized and incorporated inventors rights to their creations and discoveries into the Constitution.

    From ‘Section 8 – Powers of Congress:
    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;’

    They understood the trade off. Inventors are given a limited monopoly and in turn society gets the benefits of their inventions (telephone, computer, airplane, automobile, lighting, etc) into perpetuity and the jobs the commercialization of those inventions bring. For 200 years the patent system has not only fueled the US economy, but the world’s. If we weaken the patent system, we force inventors underground like Stradivarius (anyone know how to make a Stradivarius violin?) and in turn weaken our economy and job creation. Worse yet, we destroy the American dream -the ability to prosper from our ingenuity for the benefit of our families and communities. To kill or weaken the patent system is to kill all our futures. Show me a country with weak or ineffective property rights and I’ll show you a weak economy with high unemployment. If we cannot own the product of our minds or labors, what can we be said to truly own? Life and liberty are fundamentally tied to and in fact based on property rights. Our very lives are inseparably tied to our property.

    Prior to the Supreme Court case eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the eBay decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back into the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all patentees, large and small.

    Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

    For the truth about trolls and so-called patent reform, please see