Saturday, March 9, 2013

Patent Trolls & The Shield Act (A Brief "Bite Wing" Interlude)

Hello, Readers!

This is just a brief "Bite Wing" interlude to let you know about something important to me--The Shield Act. I don't normally engage politically on this blog, but something's going on that threatens to shut down some of the most innovative and exciting work being done in the world of podcasting.  

Patent trolls are basically professional extortionists who buy up patents, then threaten expensive lawsuits again individuals and businesses. Because patent cases are extremely costly and time-consuming to defend against, patent trolls are then able to successfully extort "licensing fees" from these entities, because the fees are far cheaper than fighting a court case. Patent trolls are in the business of threatening to sue, and they are getting away with it because of a broken patent system. 

A patent group who claims to own the patent for podcasting has already sued Adam Carolla, and may eventually pose a threat to less well-known and financially resourced podcasters such as Paul Gilmartin of "The Mental Illness Happy Hour" and Luke Burbank of "TBTL". Marc Maron has already received a letter from them, as well as a number of other podcasters. 

This is an exciting and expansive era for personal expression through podcasting. The fact that podcasting is an accessible technology, relatively inexpensive, and easy to produce has led to an explosion of creativity and innovation which patent trolling threatens to mute. 

But patent trolling is a bane on more than just podcasting. It threatens new product development, start-ups, and even individual end users. The Shield Law aims to make patent lawsuits less appealing by mandating that if patent trolls lose in court, they must pay the defendant's legal fees. You can read more about the Shield Act here, and here, and if you so choose, you can take action here

Thanks for listening. I will have the second-to-last installment of "Bite Wing" up this weekend, and will be back to writing "regular" blog posts soon!

--Kristen McHenry

No comments: