Uncertainty has arisen in the podcasting arena after VoloMedia, Inc, a company based in Sunnyvale, California, announced that it had been granted the “US Patent for Podcasting” at the end of July this year.
In the days following the announcement, two key questions emerged: can this patent be valid, and if so, how does VoloMedia intend to assert its newly acquired patent rights?
The relevant patent, US patent number 7,568,213, covers a method for providing episodic media content and claims priority from an earlier application filed in November 2003. Since the announcement, various comments and blog posts have pointed to sources of prior art which could be used to invalidate the patent. Further, a number of commentators have questioned whether the patent could withstand any meaningful attack on its validity. Until such an attack, however, the patent remains valid and enforceable.
As to VoloMedia’s intentions, inventor and co-founder Murgesh Navar has stated, somewhat vaguely, that VoloMedia’s goal 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.”
At this stage, VoloMedia does not appear to be anxious to commence litigation to enforce its (potentially precarious) patent rights.
However, considering the breadth of the claims and the fact that the podcasting community and online media giants are now acutely aware of VoloMedia, Inc, it remains to be seen how this patent will be exercised in the months, or years, to come.