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

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  • 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?

  • Can you explain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trcooper (18794) <coop AT redout DOT org> 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?

  • 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 [] 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?"

  • The EFF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138) <> 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?

Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet. -- P.E. Trudeau