Marc Maron is one of the podcasters who has been threatened by Personal Audio, a patent trollAn entity in the business of being infringed — by analogy to the mythological troll that exacted payments from the unwary. Cf. NPE, PAE, PME. See Reitzig and Henkel, Patent Trolls, the Sustainability of ‘Locking-in-to-Extort’ Strategies, and Implications for Innovating Firms. whose owner claims to have invented podcasting. This inventor never did manage to implement his own system successfully.
Marc was interviewed about his situation by Corporate Counsel. Marc is no lawyer or patent expert (although he is a very funny comedian), but his understanding of the situation is dead on:
CC: On your podcast, you make a point of being empathetic and open to the point of view of the person sitting across from you. Do you see anything positive from the PAE’s side?
MM: I understand it in the same way as somebody who got an opportunity that didn’t pan out. In show business, a lot of guys almost make it. A lot of guys get on TV for a little while and then it goes away. A lot of people write a lot of scripts that don’t get made. From my understanding of this particular guy and this particular patent, this is a guy who had some designs for some technology that could have been applied to a lot of things. He tried to build a machine, and he couldn’t get it done for one reason or another. He failed at executing on his patent in a way that it could enter the marketplace. So now, because of loopholes in the patent system, he’s able to re-introduce that patent and now try to retrofit it on anything that he thinks would apply to his patent.
And somehow or another, that’s OK. It doesn’t seem to encourage business. It just seems to be completely unfair and wrong. You’re asking me if I have sympathy for this guy? Yeah, I’m sorry he couldn’t make money with his patent in terms of introducing something into the marketplace. And now for him to say, “I invented that,” years and years later, talking to people who are just pushing a button in their garage and then asking them for money—it seems so clearly an abuse of the system.