There is lots of talk right now about changing the patent system to reduce the troll problem, and there are plenty of providers coming on the scene offering new ways to level the playing field. But there is one that is especially unique. Personal Audio sued ACE Broadcasting Network in the E.D. Texas for producing podcasts. ACE Broadcasting is the company of comedian/personality Adam Carolla and produces Adam Carolla’s podcast, which is the #1 downloaded podcast on the iTunes store. Personal Audio likely expected podcasters, like ACE Broadcasting, to fold and pay a defense cost-based license fee. Instead, Personal Audio is getting a fight. And ACE Broadcasting is doing it in an interesting way — crowdfunding. ACE Broadcasting has begun a funding drive on FundAnything.com — https://fundanything.com/en/campaigns/patenttroll. Carolla is asking fans of his shows, other podcasters and troll opponents generally to become “Troll Fighters.” He is also offering t-shirts and hats with an anti-troll logo — THEY HOLD THE PATENTS. WE HOLD THE POWER. As of the writing of this post, the crowd has raised nearly $85,000 to fund ACE Broadcasting Network’s suit against Personal Audio. While that sum is modest as compared to the cost to defend a patent case through trial, it will cover at least the majority of a summary judgment motion briefing and argument. Maybe it will be the summary judgment motion that wins the case and, assuming it is an invalidity motion or a noninfringement argument based upon shared industry characteristics, protect the entire podcasting industry.
And Adam Carolla’s campaign is not the only crowdfunding effort to defend against Personal Audio. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also crowdfunded an Inter Partes Review petition as part of its Save Podcasts campaign.