California - Both CBS Corp. and NBC Universal Media LLC were sued in separate Texas federal court actions by Personal Audio LLC, a Beaumont, Texas company who claims to be "pioneers in playlists and podcasting." The lawsuits stem from claims by Personal Audio that CBS and NBS are infringing on one of its five patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504 B2. The patent at issue covers transmission of audio programming through the internet.
Personal Audio feels that the audio versions of television shows podcast by CBS and NBC infringe its patent. Specifically, Personal Audio is alleging that the CBS podcasts for news programming such as 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News and Face the Nation infringe its patent. NBC podcasts alleged to be infringing include the Nightly News with Brian Williams, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Meet the Press.
Personal Audio's patent covers "an audio program and message distribution system in which a host system transmits information regarding episodes to client subscriber locations". It is alleging that both CBS and NBC are using software and hardware such as servers and data storage in a manner that directly infringes its patent.
Should Personal Audio prevail in the lawsuit, it appears that CBS and NBC will not be forced to discontinue podcasting the shows. Instead, it is more likely that they will enter into licensing agreements with Personal Audio.
CBS and NBC are not the first to be sued by Personal Audio for patent infringement. Personal Audio has already initiated lawsuits against HowStuffWorks.com, Togi Entertainment Inc. and Ace Broadcasting Network LLC, owner of the most-downloaded podcast program "The Adam Carolla Show."
In another proceeding, Personal Audio secured a $12 Million judgment against Apple two years ago over similar patents related to a downloadable musical playlist and playback system. Richard Baker, Personal Audio's VP of Licensing commented: "It's unfortunate that an inventor has to resort to litigation in order to get people to respond to offers for amicable licensing discussions. The inventors are just looking to be compensated for their hard work and the risk they took to bring this technology to the industry."
It is unknown thus far how CBS and NBC plan to respond to the allegations.