Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents

Ask Personal Audio's James Logan About Patents, Playlists, and Podcasts 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-what-you-will dept.
James Logan founded MicroTouch Systems in the 80s and served on the on the Board of Directors of Andover.net, the company that acquired Slashdot back in 1999, but it is the company he founded in 1996, Personal Audio, that has garnered him much attention recently. Personal Audio sued Apple in 2009 for $84 million, claiming infringement on patents for downloadable playlists. Apple eventually lost the case and a jury ordered them to pay $8 million in damages. More recently, Personal Audio has filed suit against several prominent podcasters claiming that “Personal Audio is the owner of a fundamental patent involving the distribution of podcasts.” The EFF challenged the patents calling the company a patent troll saying, "Patent trolls have been wreaking havoc on innovative companies for some time now." The vice president of licensing for the Texas company counters that the EFF is working for "large companies against a small business and a couple of inventors," adding "Every defendant calls every plaintiff a patent troll. I've heard IBM called a patent troll. It's one of those terms everyone defines differently." Mr. Logan has agreed to answer your questions about his company and his patents. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Personal Audio's James Logan About Patents, Playlists, and Podcasts

Comments Filter:
  • congrats (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You're one of the fucktards screwing up our country. Take pride.

  • Yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is like someone trying to copyright uploading and downloading to and from the internet.

    • by JMJimmy (2036122)

      ^This.

      I wonder if James Logan is any relation to Barry Logan of Canipre notoriety?

      Most software patents are garbage - doing math/iterations/etc in a computer is no different than doing them on paper. It's just faster. Copyright protection, sure. Not patent protection.

    • Not really since you can't copyright such a thing. It would be similar to patenting it though.

  • Links to patents (Score:5, Informative)

    by thereitis (2355426) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:34AM (#43962375) Journal
    6,199,076 [uspto.gov] and 8,112,504 [uspto.gov]
    • by Medievalist (16032) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:06PM (#43962811)

      6,199,076 and 8,112,504

      Thanks for that, very informative.

      These patents are pretty clear. The villains here are not really Logan, Goessling and Call - they are playing entirely by the rules as our (supposedly representative) government has set them.

      The villains are the incompetent schmucks in the Patent Office who should never have allowed these patents (on grounds of obviousness and lack of "genius" as required by law) and - even more so - the greedy schmucks in the US Congress in 1870 who opened the floodgates by removing the requirement for working models, which restricted the patentability of ideas in an extremely useful and equitable way. Back in the day, if you couldn't build a model of it inside a 12inch by 12inch cube, it just wasn't patentable.

      But all that aside, here's a question for Logan: When wealthy corporate patent owners shake down small businessmen [techdirt.com] and individuals, the White House is all in favor of "protecting American innovation". But recently the Obama adminstration has had strong words for "patent trolls" - at odds with Joe Biden's long history of support for absurdly strong intellectual property laws and ever-growing length of monopoly. Do you think your successful efforts to get wealthy zaibatsus like Apple to pay off your small company is the reason for the Obama/Biden White House's sudden and uncharacteristic distaste for so-called "patent trolls?"

      • by saihung (19097) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:26PM (#43963049)

        Yes. This particular troll isn't the problem. The system that allows people to patent ideas, rather than inventions, is the problem. The notion, however, that taking advantage of a broken system to one's own advantage, even if it hurts everyone else, is blameless? That's crazy. Of course this troll is morally accountable for their actions. But to put it in question form:

        Why do you believe you deserve any money in licensing fees at all, when you haven't apparently done any of the work required to produce a product?

        • Why does saihung believe that no work has been done, when Logan spent 1.6 million of his own money to bring a product to market before anyone else?

          The guy built the invention. He played by both the spirit and the letter of the rules. The rules suck but you are just scapegoating this guy for that - maybe you should do some research before you start publicly calling people out?

        • I live in Argentina. Our economy sucks, we can barely get foreign currencies if we want to live the country, we can't import almost anything, and we've like a millon of other really sucky problems.

          But here, we only patent inventions, not ideas, and that's the one (and only) thing that makes me proud about this so very problematic country.

          We don't you guys learn from us!!

        • Inventions are ideas. The problem is that we allow obvious inventions/ideas to be patented. This results on wasteful litigation and stifles innovation. Patents if done properly can encourage innovation, but we are doing it completely wrong. In this climate there is more incentive to be a patent lawyer than an inventor.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:28PM (#43963059) Homepage

        "The villains here are not really Logan, Goessling and Call - they are playing entirely by the rules as our (supposedly representative) government has set them."

        Way to shift the blame... The people running the Gas chambers at Auschwitz were not villains, it was all Hitlers fault.

        • The villains here are not really Logan, Goessling and Call - they are playing entirely by the rules as our (supposedly representative) government has set them.

          Way to shift the blame... The people running the Gas chambers at Auschwitz were not villains, it was all Hitlers fault.

          You win the prize, in the form of "insightful" mods by people who apparently can't discriminate between mass murder and unsavory business practices. Congratulations!

          That's not sarcasm. I sincerely admire the way you've gamed the sys

          • You can make an analogy by relating the holocaust with patent trolling. It doesn't mean that you can't discriminate between mass murder and patent trolling. But it does indicate that you don't know what an analogy is.

            If someone makes an analogy between running a multinational corporation and a lemonade stand, the proper response is not "Corporations are much bigger than lemonade stands, why can't you see that?", the proper response is "I think this is a good/bad analogy because..."

            In this case, I definite

      • by pr0nbot (313417)

        Just because a system (the patent office in this case) permits an immoral act (patenting something obvious with no intention of using it in any form except as leverage for extortion) doesn't absolve you of your responsibility to act morally.

        Capitalism, on the other hand, does require you to act immorally in this case. (Because if you don't, your competitor will, to your disadvantage. Hence patent war chests.)

        • You've made several good points, but I still feel compelled to repeat that Logan et al clearly did intend to use their patents, since they did build devices and did attempt to market them. These were never submarine patents (despite all the giant corporations crying bitter crocodile tears) and perfectly valid moral objections to that practice are not applicable here.

          People are choosing to ignore certain realities because they don't want to pay the patent owner. It makes them feel morally righteous to pret

          • by brit74 (831798)
            > "since they did build devices and did attempt to market them."

            The "devices" they created existed decades before Jim Logan came along to patent it: "The National Talking Express is a monthly stereo tape magazine for the blind and visually impaired. It was launched in 1979 and was the first tape magazine in the UK to go stereo. It has a national and international membership."
            • Unless the National Talking Express had a method for selecting per-user content before delivery, that ain't prior art.

              However, in any case, thank you for adding something to the conversation! I would not be surprised if the patent was invalid, and personally I think it never should have been granted - but these claims that Logan never did any work and never created anything seem to be false, so wasting time on lame accusatory "questions" in this thread is stupid.

  • by barista (587936) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:38AM (#43962417) Homepage
    Aside from litigation, how is your company using the patents in question?

    One definition of a patent troll is someone who uses patents solely for licensing and litigation.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Well, at one point they had a business delivering tapes of computer-selected magazine articles to people, under the original version of the patents that they're now using to sue Apple. It was a flop. I say original version because the patents were revised between that business venture and this one.

      • by JBMcB (73720)

        They also tried building a digital magazines-on-tape player, but failed (probably 'cause this was in the late 90's and the tech sucked)

      • by brit74 (831798)
        Magazined on tape existed before Jim Logan came along. Here's some prior art back in the 1970s - two decades before Jim Logan applied for a patent. If magazines on audio is an example of using his patent, then prior art invalidates his patent.

        "The National Talking Express is a monthly stereo tape magazine for the blind and visually impaired. It was launched in 1979 and was the first tape magazine in the UK to go stereo. It has a national and international membership." http://blindreaders.info/audiobks. [blindreaders.info]
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:40AM (#43962447)

    You don't seem to have any presence outside the US, despite apparently having invented podcasting. Why?

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Invented podcasting..... I still laugh my ass off at that. He did not invent shit.

      2600 magazine INVENTED podcasting way before this no talent hack did anything.

  • Why individuals? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:41AM (#43962473)

    Pursuing the end users of a product which infringes upon one's patent is practically unheard-of. Why have you done so?

  • When the hell will this industry get rid of dynamic compression, given that newer media (BluRay, SACD, etc.) have far more bandwidth than the CDs of yesterday??

    It's gotten to the point where I (and many people I know) skipped buying certain albums (which I otherwise would've loved to own) because of this damn mastering practice!!

    • Also I find it amusing that he former owner of Slashdot had his website Slashdotted. I was going to go to Personal Audio's site to see if they actually produce any products aside from lawsuits.

  • What do you do? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:45AM (#43962523)

    There don't seem to be many people asking questions, so I'll bite.

    What exactly is Personal Audio? Your website is slashdotted, so I can't find what you make or what your business model is. But you claim not to be a patent troll. You're even willing to come to a hive of kneejerking anti-patent-trolls and answer our questions to try and convince us of this. So, if you're not one, why not? What do you make? What do you sell? What do you do?

  • Is it wrong for me to hope you die of the most unimaginably awful cancer, that will cause you to ooze horrible puss-like fluids that reek so awfully you're family won't be able to bear to be around you, and they will pray to God each and every night that you finally die... but you don't, and just linger in that state for years.

    Is that wrong?

    • Is it wrong for me to hope you die of the most unimaginably awful cancer, that will cause you to ooze horrible puss-like fluids that reek so awfully you're family won't be able to bear to be around you, and they will pray to God each and every night that you finally die... but you don't, and just linger in that state for years.

      Is that wrong?

      Will there be a podcast of all that?

    • by Wokan (14062)

      Is it wrong for me to hope you die of the most unimaginably awful cancer, that will cause you to ooze horrible puss-like fluids that reek so awfully you're family won't be able to bear to be around you, and they will pray to God each and every night that you finally die... but you don't, and just linger in that state for years.

      Is that wrong?

      The wrongness would depend on how strongly you believe in the power of hope.

      Here's hoping.

  • Now that personalaudio.net has been slashdotted, how do you feel about the apparent inadvertent side effects of owning patents ?
  • Can you explain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trcooper (18794) <`gro.tuoder' `ta' `pooc'> on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:47AM (#43962551) Homepage

    Can you explain, in terms I could tell the average person, how your patent is novel enough that anyone who wants to distribute audio over the internet should license it from you? I'd appreciate it if you could address how the distributions of podcasts today widely differs from downloading audio files in 1995 and how your patent help change this.

  • The next SCO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:47AM (#43962553)

    Suing end users of technology directly? How can you say this is not a patent troll behavior?

  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:54AM (#43962649) Journal

    According to NPR last week, you basically invented books-on-tape, including distribution of same. Given people have been snail mailing messages on tape to each other since at least the '70s (and I know Charles Emerson Winchester III sent and received reel-to-reel tapes with his rich family in M*A*S*H in the 50s, probably reflective of reality) how could people doiing this on the Internet be any differemt? The mass distribution aspect? Seems like a stretch, when it's the equivalent of an audio printing press.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      > "According to NPR last week, you basically invented books-on-tape, including distribution of same."

      They didn't say that. And those things existed long before Jim Logan applied for a patent.

      "The National Talking Express is a monthly stereo tape magazine for the blind and visually impaired. It was launched in 1979 and was the first tape magazine in the UK to go stereo. It has a national and international membership." http://blindreaders.info/audiobks.html [blindreaders.info]
  • Cassette Tapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaseCrash (1120869) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:03PM (#43962765)
    The only business you made with these patents was sending cassette tapes with some recorded articles that were chosen by the customer through the mail. How does this transfer to creating playlists and podcasting? Picking the listening order of sound files I got from the internet doesn't really seem like it should be protected intellectual property. How do you justify what you've done (a failed business in 1995) to justify payment (much much later) from people who had never heard of you or your patents when they made their services/products, and who apparently never tried to patent that process as it seemed too obvious to them?
  • by citizenr (871508) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:08PM (#43962829) Homepage

    Please tell me about yourself. What do you do every day? Do you have any favourite restaurants? Strip clubs? Golf courses? Road you take between work and home, do you even bother going to work every day? Any dangerous hobbies prone to accidents?

    It would be very helpful to my Cuban business associates - Iv been told they are the quickest and cheapest option when dealing with patent litigation, cutting all the red tape and all.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mr. Logan,

    Here's a "comment" from the Computer World story linked above:

    'The company was able to hang on to several patents, however, and put them "in a drawer for 10 years," Baker added. "Is that a troll?"'
    Yes it is. That is exactly the definition of a troll. They weren't able to make it work, had no impact on the industry, failed and no one has ever heard of them. But when someone more enterprising independently comes up with a similar idea, solves all the problems that Personal Audio couldn't solve, popu

  • Dear James Logan, Do you believe litigation is the best way to win over the court of public opinion? Sincerely, -The Internet
  • Why do you choose to go after the the pod-caster and not the company that is creating the technology? Thanks!
  • by MtHuurne (602934) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:32PM (#43963137) Homepage

    I am curious why you would volunteer to step into the lion's den.

  • The EFF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:44PM (#43963285) Homepage

    Claiming that the EFF is some sort of enforcer working for large companies to beat up small ones is an idea that can only have come from heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs. Which ones does your team take?

  • invention??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:03PM (#43963541)

    What exactly did you invent? I am not asking what general idea you described. I am asking what did you invent?

  • The intent of patent and copyright laws is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Certainly back in the 18th century when the Constitution was written access to information, resources, and research specialists was limited and costly. Now in the 21st century, with global economics focused on knowledge and service sectors, these assets are extremely abundant. Would the progress of Science and the Arts be better served by eliminating legal barries to innovation, such as patents, and letting the
  • Slashdot is soliciting readers to ask questions, the answers to which will be delivered by you through a web server, to be consumed by readers on their media browsing devices.

    Does not this very process violate one of your 'patents'? I'm sure a creative patent lawyer can interpret your 'patents' in a way that covers this process.

    Do I owe you money now? Not that I intend to pay, just out of interest.

  • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Monday June 10, 2013 @01:51PM (#43964167)

    When did you first hear of podcasting and why didn't you file your infringement suit immediately instead of waiting until many people were already using the technology?

  • A programmed digital computer for reproducing audio programs, said computer comprising, in combination: ....

    Does this claim include a general purpose computer that is not "for reproducing audio programs", but happens to have the ability to reproduce audio programs?

  • You claim that patent law helps inventors and companies protect their intellectual work. Using that general observation, you then claim(simply because it is a "patent" and patents are, in general, helpful) that your particular patent is therefore helpful to the world. One can imagine scenarios where a particularly unique or non-obvious idea could be helpful to the world if companies could come along, view the patent, decide to license the technology, giving them a leg-up in their field. In other words,
  • Hi Jim, I am about to start a podcast of my own, and I want to make sure I do this in the right way.

    I looked on your website, but there is no information for how to license your podcasting patent. No online shopping option. No form to mail in. No price. In fact, in the This American Life episode, Richard Baker says "We have a price. We just don't want to make it public."

    It seems that the only way to license with you, is to first launch my podcast and then settle with you once you threaten to sue me

  • Could you name these "small companies" that the EFF is targeting? I've only come across DRM-enforcers, record companies, and similar very large corporations.

  • While you schmucks were all jerking off about how evil it is I managed to score all these important genius new inventions. Applaud me world, I am an innovator! I now have a patent for:

    * downloading a shopping list
    * downloading a list of music I don't want to hear played
    * uploading a playlist
    * sideloading a playlist
    * pressing the letter 'e' on a keyboard
    * gravity - stop downloading my gravity for free or I will sue you!
    * hexagonal pixels - they are the FUTURE!
    * holograms with interlaced lines, analog noise,

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

Working...