Sometimes the process of applying for (and receiving) a U.S. patent can take years—so long, in fact, that technologies can emerge, bloom, and wither in the time it takes for patent claims to be processed, reviewed, and approved—or rejected. In that vein, software house VoloMedia has been awarded a patent for a “Method for providing episodic media content” that it claims covers the basic technology behind podcasting, including managing episodes, setting priorities, and syncing the material with a portable device.
VoloMedia is active in the media syndication market, with clients like MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, and The Washington Post. The company applied for the patent back in 2003, back when podcasting was first starting to take off, and is the first patent to be granted to VoloMedia of dozens for which it has applied.
“As consumers recognize the convenience of automatic downloads for episodic media, podcasting has gone mainstream with major media companies and more than 37 million U.S. consumers engaged. This automatic downloading of episodic media closely resembles how one-third of U.S. households are using a DVR to watch television today. This patent recognizes our technical leadership in setting the trend for a broad-based movement towards downloading episodic television shows and making them portable,” said VoloMedia founder Murgesh Navar, in a statement.
The industry has generally responded to the patent announcement with skepticism, noting that the patent application is vague and doesn’t mention specific technologies or media types—by extension, it could refer to any type of serial or syndicated content, even Twitter feeds. VoloMedia hasn’t indicated any specific plans to pursue licensing its patents to online content providers, save that it intends to use its patents so to drive the creation of standards so “consumers have a real choice in how they consume any media that is available on the Internet.”