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CBS Prevails in $90 Million Podcasting Patent Suit

November 9, 2020

The “podcasting patent” case is finally over, after the Supreme Court denied Personal Audio LLC’s writ of certiorari on November 9, 2020.

Personal Audio originally asserted U.S. Pat. No. 8,112,504 (“the ’504 patent”) against Rothwell Figg clients CBS Corporation, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, and Fox Broadcasting Company in 2013, seeking in excess of $90 million. In 2014, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas found in favor of Personal Audio, but awarded damages of only $1.3 million. Before post-trial briefing was complete, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a Final Written Decision in an IPR proceeding, finding the ’504 patent unpatentable. Personal Audio then agreed to stay the District Court litigation while Personal Audio appealed the PTAB’s decision to the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s decision in 2017, rejecting Personal Audio’s arguments on the merits as well as Personal Audio’s arguments challenging the constitutionality of the IPR process.

Following the invalidation of the patent, the District Court vacated the jury’s verdict and entered judgment in favor of CBS. Personal Audio then appealed that decision to the Federal Circuit as well. The Federal Circuit affirmed in a January 10, 2020 decision, holding that the PTAB’s decision, and the Federal Circuit’s subsequent affirmance, precluded Personal Audio from continuing to assert its now-invalid patent claims against CBS. The Federal Circuit also held that Personal Audio was not entitled to a second bite at the apple to collaterally attack the constitutionality of the IPR process. On April 1, 2020, the Federal Circuit denied Personal Audio LLC’s request for rehearing and rehearing en banc of the January 10, 2020 decision.

Personal Audio filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, which the United States Supreme Court denied on November 9, 2020.

The case is significant both for the widespread reach of the patent holder in asserting its claims against podcast hosts, including Adam Corolla, as well as for solidifying Federal Circuit precedent on the procedural interplay between IPRs and federal court litigation. It has been covered by IP Law360 numerous times: April 12, 2013; April 21, 2014; August 7, 2017January 10, 2020; April 1, 2020; and November 9, 2020.

CBS is represented by Rothwell Figg attorneys Steven Lieberman, Sharon Davis, Brian Rosenbloom, Daniel McCallum, and Jennifer Maisel.

The case is Personal Audio LLC v. CBS Corp., case number 20-260, before the U.S. Supreme Court.