Notorious patent troll Personal Audio LLC did not invent adding episodic content to a webpage, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in an April 10 decision that’s expected to put a serious crimp in Personal Audio’s plans to extract licensing fees from podcasters and television networks.

The decision from a panel of three administrative patent judges comes in an inter partes review filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which raised more than $75,000 in a crowdfunding challenge to support the effort.

An earlier campaign had raised more than $500,000 to fend off a suit Personal Audio brought against podcaster Adam Carolla, although Carolla ultimately settled with the company. In a separate infringement suit against CBS Corp., a federal jury in Texas awarded Personal Audio $1.3 million.

The background is this: In 1996, Personal Audio applied to patent a personal audio device, an application that was amended 13 years later – long after the explosion of the podcast industry – to include the concept of regularly updating a website with new audio and video episodes. The business was founded as a mail-order service in which subscribers would regularly receive cassettes with newspaper and magazine articles read and recorded aloud. That service, Personal Audio would later claim, constituted the “invention” of podcasting.

But EFF was able to demonstrate in its filing that, by 1996, there were already many examples of webpages regularly updated with episodic content, including those of CNN, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Carl Malmud’s “Geek of the Week” Internet radio show. The PTO judges agreed that there was sufficient prior art that the patent ought never have been granted, ordering the claims for episodic content “unpatentable.”

A copy of the full decision is embedded below.

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