In the crazy word of tech patents, one company says it now lords over the concept of connecting people to episodic media content.
Put another way, VoloMedia claims that it owns the U.S. patent for podcasting. The company, an advertising and tracking firm whose clients include ABC, Fox News and Public Radio International, filed the patent in 2003, before the rise of podcasting, Ars Technica reports. The patent was granted this week.
It’s not clear what the company will do now, because it uses a lot of business jargon in describing its next move. “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,” patent inventor Murgesh Navar wrote in a blog post.
A company rep tells Ars that VoloMedia “is not entertaining or pursuing any licensing conversations.,” adding that the company wants to work with the major players of podcasting. But what if these podcasters don’t want any part of the deal? There’s still a question of whether VoloMedia will use its newly-granted patent as muscle.
I don’t expect the company to go after smaller podcasters, but it’ll be interesting to see where a line is drawn in the sand. The great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it, so theoretically any podcaster can achieve fame, or even fortune. Whether VoloMedia only intends to target mainstream media companies remains to be seen.
With all that said, this patent seems ridiculously broad. As Ars points out, the patent is even wider in scope than podcasting because it encompasses delivery of all episodic media, not just video and audio delivered by RSS. Further, it’s not clear what part of VoloMedia’s patent is actually invented. RSS feeds and and downloads, pre-date podcasting, and the automatic download of new podcasts seems like common sense.
So, regardless of whether VoloMedia targets medium to small-time podcasters, I’m hoping some larger companies challenge the patent in court, because it seems like too slippery a slope.