VoloMedia Awarded U.S. Patent On Podcasting

Jul 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Corporate Podcasts, Featured Story, General, Podcasting, Podcasting Law

VoloMedia, a provider of advertising and reporting solutions for portable media, today announced that it was awarded U.S. Patent 7,568,213, titled Method for Providing Episodic Media yesterday.

The company says it expects companies creating products relating to podcasting and media synchronization to enter into partnerships with VoloMedia.

Founder Murgesh Navar has this to say about the patent:

The relative breadth of the issued claims under this patent has given rise to many questions. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide some context to our announcement: “VoloMedia Awarded U.S. Patent for Podcasting”.

Over the years, I have heard arguments, pro and con, to the utility and necessity of an intellectual property (IP) system. One one hand, there are arguments that say exclusive rights to ideas awarded on a patent excludes others from doing what they want to do and, therefore, IP systems close down access to knowledge. On the other hand, patents and intellectual property rights do drive innovation, as well as investments in new ideas. I do not wish to debate the merits of the U.S. patent system, but just acknowledge there are two sides to the issue of patent awards. VoloMedia has filed a dozen U.S. patent applications since 2003. Patent no. 7,568,213 is the first in the pipeline to issue. We expect the others to follow suit.

With specific reference to our newly issued 7,568,213 patent, it was filed in November 2003, almost a year before the start of podcasting. This helps underscore the point, that for nearly six years, VoloMedia has been focused on helping publishers monetize portable media…. and has continued these efforts with the addition of a wide array of smartphone-based applications. The patent that issued yesterday helps to tie together and reinforce the value of the various technologies and services that VoloMedia has developed to help accomplish this objective. VoloMedia’s intent is to continue to work collaboratively with key participants in the industry, leveraging its unique range of products to further grow and accelerate the market. Today, podcasting is 100% RSS-based. However, the patent is not RSS-dependent. Rather, it covers all episodic media downloads. It just so happens that, today, the majority of episodic media downloads are RSS-based podcasts, which is why we titled our announcement the way we did.

The episodic media download industry is still in its infancy. There will come a day when all the content on Hulu is available as an episodic download. Consumers will then have legitimate choices in how they consume their media: on a downloaded and portable basis, or by visiting a content aggregation website. As the medium matures, one would expect to see new entrants into the episodic download arena. The impact of a strong growing IP portfolio is such that we would expect new entrants into the podcasting arena to have a collaborative relationship with VoloMedia, just as do many of the current players.

This patent raises all sorts of questions:

  • Is there really anything unique technologically about podcasting? Is the publish and subscribe mechanism that podcasting is based on different than other data synchronization systems?.
  • Will this promote the development of podcasting or reward those that have developed it?
  • Is this going to kill off new developments in the world of podcasting and new media?

What do you think of VoloMedia’s patent on podcasting?

For reference, below are the claims, per VoloMedia, issued under U.S. patent 7,568,213:

1. A method for providing episodic media, the method comprising: providing a user with access to a channel dedicated to episodic media, wherein the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes by a remote publisher of the episodic media; receiving a subscription request to the channel dedicated to the episodic media from the user; automatically downloading updated episodic media associated with the channel dedicated to the episodic media to a computing device associated with the user in accordance with the subscription request upon availability of the updated episodic media, the automatic download occurring without further user interaction; and providing the user with: an indication of a maximum available channel depth, the channel depth indicating a size of episodic media yet to be downloaded from the channel and size of episodic media already downloaded from the channel, the channel depth being specified in playtime or storage resources, and the ability to modify the channel depth by deleting selected episodic media content, thereby overriding the previously configured channel depth.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising automatically providing the user with an indication of the availability of updated episodic media via the channel dedicated to the episodic media in accordance with the subscription request.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising synchronizing the updated episodic media automatically downloaded to the computing device associated with the user with a portable computing device communicatively coupled to the computing device associated with the user.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media automatically occurs in response to a predetermined user setting.

5. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media occurs in response to a request received from the user.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the updated episodic media is made available to users not associated with the computing device over a local area network.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the automatic download is further based on a priority assigned to the channel.

8. The method of claim 3, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is reduced in size during synchronization in order to fit available cache storage within the portable device.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is modified in size by removing one or more episodes of episodic media.
Learn more about Volomedia

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36 Responses to “VoloMedia Awarded U.S. Patent On Podcasting”

  1. arjun says:

    This Patent just shows how screwed up the US Patent system is nowadays. They should have never awarded this.

    This is a disaster for podcasting – because you know they are going to going after everybody for licensing fees.

    VoloMedia = Patent Trolls!

  2. Rob Walch says:

    http://www.scripting.com/stories/2009/07/29/didVolomediaInventPodcasti.html

    Enough said. A classic case of the USPTO not doing their homework for prior art.

  3. Dan Fognil says:

    VoloMedia should get a d-bag award, too!

  4. Krud says:

    I should get in now with my patent on “Displaying And/Or Publishing Media In A Method Not Yet Defined.”

  5. I doubt very much that the patent will hold up anywhere outside the US. Come to Europe, where sanity prevails. We will take care of your podcasts.

  6. I wonder what Apple will do when VoloMedia starts negotiations with them about their patent being infringed on by iTunes.

  7. radley says:

    “With specific reference to our newly issued 7,568,213 patent, it was filed in November 2003, almost a year before the start of podcasting.”

    ORLY?

    http://www.princeton.edu/newmedia/podcast/2002.xml

  8. [...] gracias a Dave Winer (uno de los tipos más importantes y prolíficos que conocí) es ridículo. En Podcasting News están analizando todo el fallo y es ridículo y hay más en [...]

  9. Tom Sheppard says:

    VoloMedia’s Murgesh Navar is 10 years late to the party. They filed patent in 2003, 10 years after Carl Malamud was podcasting already. He just didn’t call it that. See http://town.hall.org/radio/Geek/

    I remember it taking hours to download the uncompressed Sun audio file over a shared 56 kbps link. It was worth the wait. I then distributed an audio cassette to my staff so they could listen to the podcasts.

    Geez, I sure hope VoloMedia didn’t invent TCP/IP too.

  10. IANAL, but it certainly looks like the prior art will shoot this down, once it’s challenged. About the only foresight I see in their patent is the bit about resizing the media for a portable device when you sync. But there could be prior art for that, too, AFAIK. But as for the rest of it, the podcasting work done by Winer and Curry certainly seems to cover all the bases.

    One of the first things I thought of was some of the Palm Pilot utilities that predated RSS. There were services that had very similar functionality, albeit for text content, not audio and video. But they had the subscribe and sync aspects.

  11. Tim says:

    This will be short lived. Start with this… http://radio.weblogs.com/0001014/2003/10/12.html#a4604

  12. phree says:

    Someone challenge this quick. No company should hold a patent on podcasting. These guys are patent trolls. Would love to see this reversed ASAP.

  13. Rob Blatt says:

    What a load of manure. This needs to be addressed immediately!

  14. Eric Fickes says:

    I’m going to file a patent on giving the finger, right after I click the submit comment button.

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  16. Rusty says:

    I’m essentially mortified infuriated, and confused all at the same time. This is obviously not a valid patent, and I’m afraid of what it will do to larger podcasters if it’s not stopped. But I’m confused as to how it will affect young, independent podcasters like myself – I’m sixteen years old, and I’ve been podcasting since I was thirteen. What would happen if a show I produced earned a decent amount of success?

    If anyone is sure, let me know, but for now I’m going to keep making my show and hope for the best.

  17. Todd Cochrane says:

    VoloMedia purportedly has a pile of other podcast patents in pipeline, dynamic ad insert, targeting, measurement, reporting, campaign mgmt.

    I just wonder if they ran around and grabbed up everyone’s blog post about what they were doing in the space and submitted patents on those discussions. I am not willing to predict what they will do with all of these patents if awarded but if they get aggressive it will surely be a concern to all of us that are working hard for podcasters.

    At this point it is a unnecessary distraction and you wonder with the economy the way it is and a number of podcasting companies having serious financial difficulties that this is not a hail mary by them hoping that some corporate patent troll will come in a sweep them up.

  18. [...] for responding with anxiety, distress, and outrage. The many commenters on the announcement in Podcasting News seem determined to prove that Volo did not invent podcasting and to condemn the company as a [...]

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  21. Amir Anzur says:

    Imagine that you were one of Alexander Graham Bell’s friends so you were one of the first to use the telephone in the late 1800s – way before people in Afghanistan ever heard of what the “telephone” was.

    So you got to say “hello, I love chocolate” before anyone else in the world on the telephone. As you thought saying “hello, I love chocolate” was cool and unique you applied for a patent – and since no one had used that combination of words before, the US Patent Office granted you the patent.

    A couple years down the line when the Afghanis start getting telephone lines installed in their country they also want to say “hello, I love chocolate” on the phone. But they can’t because you have a patent. Instead they have to come up with workarounds like “Salamalaikum, I like that dark thing which makes you get fat” in order to avoid infringing on your patent.

    This is exactly what is happening with patents on the internet. The internet is and will be even more a global phenomena. It just happened to have become really popular in the US/Europe before the rest of the world. Unfortunately, for the Afghanis/Ethiopians/Ecuadorians it might take them a while longer to realize the benefits. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if when you finally got a phone line installed in your house – all the good words and phrases were taken?

    Software patents – especially on the internet – are not a great idea. They put the developing world and the small time entrepreneurs at a serious disadvantage – while giving the large corporations a huge advantage. They ultimately hurt us, the consumers. Amazon would not stop innovating if they had not gotten the patent for the one-click.

    Thanks.

    Amir

  22. matt says:

    I wouldn’t worry about this, people. You can’t actually patent an idea. You can only patent a way of carrying out that idea. Steve Jobs doesn’t hold a patent on computer programming, nor does Bill Gates. They have patents on their particular program elements. So Volomedia might have a specific program that does what they want, but all someone has to do is use a different program, and boom… no longer patent infringing. They didn’t get Brandname on the work Podcasting, so that won’t mean anything either. The thing to recognize is that you CAN patent anything you want, as long as no other patent has been filed before you. The same as I can sue you if I don’t like the color of your shirt. Whether or not my lawsuit will make it through the arraignment procedure is another issue. The patent is not the issue. It’s whether or not it is something that will hold up in a court of law as ownership. Now here’s the GOOD part. You can’t sue for court costs if you are the plaintiff, but you can if you are the defendant. So I think Volomedia will wind up paying some hefty fees if they try to enforce this patent. This is like someone trying to patent photography, or typing, or driving, or swimming, etc, Fact is, if I write my own code to do the things outlined in their patent, I have not infringed on their patent. The code is what they can patent. What morons they are to have spent so much time on something that will get them nothing but laughs.

  23. [...] Podcasting News Article – Podcast Patent by Volomedia [...]

  24. Lab860 says:

    I juat looked up what Tom wrote and it's true, they are 10 years late. It's very doubtful that this will go through though, but I bet they just figured they'd give it a shot.

    Miami Web Design

  25. Here is a statement from their latest blog at volomedia…

    "a company uses its intellectual property to help drive a standard, using its IP to help define and improve the ecosystem for the benefit of all participants."

    They are not accepting any comments unless we register. My comment back to their nonsense is thus: No one tells me what to do with my podcast. That includes using some proprietary system that someone wants to force on me, paying someone to do what I already pay someone else to do, and force my listeners to relearn they habits they already have. No go, Volo.

  26. Arden Bitton says:

    What is this negetivity?
    Relax, have a shot of Glen.

    Fact is, you can file and get a patent on almost anything.
    You can try and enforce your patent, at any occasion.

    However for this particular case, who are the targets?
    Can’t be the podcasters, they were around before the claim, they are public knowledge.
    Can’t be the users, we all know how successful we are at stoping media piracy.
    Can’t be the applications, iTunes etc…, those were around long before and are also public knowledge at the time of the claim.

    So this all boils down to an another fine example how companies waste money for nothing at all, just hot air.
    You could read my book, fake smiles, it is full with fine examples of our screwed world.
    Well you could if I would ever bother to publish it.

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