The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced it has filed a challenge on Tuesday to an illegitimate patent from Clear Channel Communications. The patent - for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances - locks musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocks innovations by others.
According to a press release by the Foundation, Clear Channel claims that its patent creates a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert live recordings on digital media and has threatened to sue anyone who makes such recordings with a different system. This has forced bands like the Pixies into using Clear Channel's proprietary technology, and it hurts investment and innovation in new systems developed by other companies.
"Clear Channel shouldn't be able to intimidate artists with bogus intellectual property," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We hope the Patent Office will take a hard look at Clear Channel's patent and agree that it should be revoked."
The request for reexamination filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows that a company named Telex had in fact developed similar technology more than a year before Clear Channel filed its patent request.
The EFF, in conjunction with Theodore C. McCullough of the Lemaire Patent Law Firm and with the help of students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law, wants the patent office to revoke the patent based on this and other extensive evidence.
"The patent system serves an important public purpose in our economy," Schultz noted. "Keeping illegitimate patents out of that system helps up-and-coming artists and entrepreneurs succeed for all of us."
The Clear Channel patent challenge is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, aimed at combating the chilling effects bad patents have on public and consumer interests. Illegitimate patents currently in effect could prevent you from building a hobbyist website or even streaming a wedding video to your friends. The Patent Busting Project seeks to document the threats and fight back by filing requests for reexamination against the worst offenders.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, the Foundation actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online.
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