A patent that’ll kill podcasting?
I’m not a lawyer, but a buddy of mine sent me this link with a “Hmmm….” attached.
I did a “Hmmm…wha!?!” too when I thought about what Apple is doing with iTunes/iPod (and soon podcasting) and whether or not this patent from Command Audio will have any impact. On their site it states in part (I’ve bolded in blue the most germane part):
Command Audio’s patents cover the audio aspects of consumer devices and services that store broadcast media for playback at the consumer’s convenience. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) and the “on-demand” services they enable are presently the best-known embodiments of this technology. These patents predate the development of the PVR market and cover a wide range of broadcast transmission technologies, devices and systems that incorporate on-demand functionality, an essential component of PVRs.
Below is one of several claims in Command Audio’s patents:
USPTO PATENT NO. 6,330,334, CLAIM 44:
A receiver comprising:
- a television tuner;
- a controller coupled to the television tuner and which provides audio from a signal received at the television tuner, wherein the audio is carried in an audio or video portion of television signals received at the tuner;
- a memory coupled to the controller and which stores the audio;
- a user interface coupled to the controller and which provides a menu; and
- an output device coupled to the controller and which outputs the stored audio in response to a selection from the menu, wherein the stored audio has a designation associated with the menu.
That last bullet sure looks to me like an iPod connected to a computer with audio managed by iTunes.
If that’s not bad enough, Command Audio says their patents are relevant to any device that filters and caches broadcast audio for later access by a user, for example:
- Radios with digital storage
- PVRs (Personal Video Recorders), including cable and satellite set top boxes
- HMGs (Home Media Gateways), including PCs with PVR capability.
Will these patents be enforceable for, say, an iPod that can record satellite radio? How come we haven’t seen Microsoft, HP and other PVR vendors getting sued for patent infringement?
According to Command Audio’s News section, in January of this year the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled against Sony Electronics, Inc. (NYSE: SNE), rejecting Sony’s contentions that Command Audio purposely misled the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the early 1990s while seeking its foundation on-demand media patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,406,626). Consequently, Command Audio’s lawsuit against Sony for infringing two related Command Audio patents will continue to move forward. In June 2004 the Court ruled summarily that Sony had been infringing at least one of those patents, U.S. Patent No. 6,330,334.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.