Adam Carolla’s Battle Against ‘Patent Trolls’ Needs Victory To Save Podcasting

Adam Carolla has a philosophy, and while I don’t recall the exact quote, it’s something along the lines of: If you want to be miserable become rich and successful.

For Carolla, this has pretty much occurred. While the trappings of his success are many, including things he loves to do like race cars and make documentaries, the negative side of making some money and being successful is that someone then wants to take it away from you, and Adam Carolla has unwillingly learned this first hand.

Why, with getting books published, being on TV, radio, the internet, the stage, and beloved by many around the world, one would think Carolla belched nothing but sunshine and joy. But in the wake of his success, Carolla has also become a target, even being sued by a life long best friend… more than once!

Adam Carolla, also known as the Ace Man, literally fought his way into success by becoming Jimmy Kimmel’s boxing trainer back when Kimmel worked for KROQ, a radio station in Los Angeles. Kimmel was preparing to settle some feud with another personality at the station and Adam stepped up to help. The rest is history with Kimmel now hosting his own late night talk show and Carolla, among many other projects, hosting America’s #1 podcast.

AC and Jimmy
Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel share a laugh in the early days of the Adam Carolla podcast.

And that is where Adam Carolla’s success has attracted a new problem: Patent Trolls.

Also known as “patent assertion entity”, Patent Trolls are people or groups that buy up patents then go looking around for anyone that might be doing or creating something that has any possible connection to the patent, then sues them. The goal of the Patent Troll generally isn’t to go to all the way to court and get a ruling or anything, but basically just to shake down their target: Give us a couple million dollars and we’ll let you slide, kapish?

This is what happened to Adam Carolla.

While patents have their place in business, legitimately protecting unique products or technologies, the Patent Troll’s goal is to make someone like Adam Carolla pick their poison: Risk losing who knows how much in court costs and a possible negative judgement? Or just pay something up front to try and make it go away?

The Trolls that are going after Adam Carolla call themselves, Personal Audio. Their supposed beef with the Ace Man and their lawsuit against him? They claim to own a patent for a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence”. They also claim that podcasts are under this patent’s umbrella, and not just Adam Carolla’s podcast but ALL podcasts, including This American Life, Joe Rogan, Marc Maron and on and on.

So basically if the Patent Trolls at Personal Audio prevail in court over team Adam Carolla, all podcasts will be in danger of being sued or closing up shop.

Again, Adam Carolla’s success as the #1 podcaster is the reason he’s one of the first targets. Well, that and because Personal Audio must’ve figured Ace had some disposable dough laying around and would settle.

How much do they want from Adam Carolla? $3 million dollars.

So, Mr. Carolla? MR. CAROLLA? You gonna pay up or what?

Adam’s answer, a resounding NO! Well, at least not without a fight.

“Normally people settle up with these guys because it’s so expensive to fight them in court,” says Carolla. “Well guess what? We’re going to circle the wagons, band together, and come out throwing punches, because remember, if I go down, well then your favorite podcast is going down next, and we all fall like dominoes.”

Personal Audio has solid experience as a Patent Troll, successfully suing Apple for $8 million dollars saying that the iPod violated their patent for “downloadable playlists.”

The potentially good news for Carolla and podcast fans everywhere is that this patent fight is already under way in federal courtrooms in two states and before an administrative panel in Washington, D.C., that could quash Personal Audio’s patent altogether.

Personal Audio founder, James Logan, feels he’s perfectly justified in trying to protect his patent, which he says he used to produce some cassette tapes and expires in 2016.

“These are our inventions,” said Logan “We’re just using what we earned.”

Battle lines drawn, Adam Carolla is saddled up for the fight, sword held high and backed by some strong troops such as Chris Hardwick, Greg Fitzsimmons, and the previously mentioned Marc Maron and Joe Rogan.

To help fund the fight against Personal Audio, Carolla has set up a website via Fundanything, with hopes of raising the $1.5 million dollars of expected legal fees.

Concludes Carolla: “Let’s smash the trolls!”