Refusing to Negotiate With "Terrorists," Adam Carolla Continues His War on Patent Trolls

"We'll take the duck tape and the zip ties."


Comedian Adam Carolla |||

When a Texas-based "patent-troll" sued comedian Adam Carolla (host of the world's most downloaded podcast) for using its "groundbreaking innovations in the distribution of serialized online media," he went to war.

When sued for patent infringement, most defendents quickly settle no matter how baseless the claim because that's cheaper than paying lawyers. Carolla countersued the firm, Personal Audio, and launched a legal defense fund. (So far he's raised $471,000.) He also took a trip to Washington, D.C. to discuss patent reform during a Senate briefing.

Carolla explained his thinking to Reason's Zach Weissmueller in a recent interview:

It's kind of like when terrorists take hostages, if you start negotiating with them then they start kidnapping more camera crews. We figured let's save the next camera crew, and we'll take the duct tape and the zip ties.

Personal Audio has since offered to drop its case against Carolla, because the comedian wasn't earning enough money to justify the shakedown. Carolla rejected the offer, stating that his production company has already incurred "hundreds of thousands of dollars" fighting the suit. He'll continue his counterclaim and request that the patent in question be invalidated.

Click below to watch Zach's entire interview with Carolla:

Bonus content: Watch Ted Balaker's 2010 interview with Carolla about legalizing drugs, cutting taxes, and fixing California.

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  1. Good on him.

    Now if somebody would just go after Nathan Myhrvold...

  2. Personal Audio has since offered to drop its case against Carolla, because the comedian wasn't earning enough money to justify the shakedown. Carolla rejected the offer...

    When slimy-acting attorneys gamble and lose, they need to lose big.

    1. Unfortunately he'll probably get a judgement against some intangible LLC... And said slime balls will just form another one.

      1. One of the many reasons a code duello needs to return.

        1. Is that a thing or a rule 34 artifact?

      2. I have much doubt that the troll will try the same tactic against someone else; one of the reasons they like settling is to avoid anyone realizing what a sham they are.

  3. AC is fucking awesome. Period.

  4. From another perspective, let's say an individual or small business invents an innovative technology and patents it, but doesn't have the capital to turn it into a huge international enterprise.

    Along comes a guy with a lot of money or a huge company like Google, and they just start using it, without paying royalties or licensing or anything.

    Now, is the small company (a) a patent troll, or (b) a little guy getting crushed by the money and power of the big guys. And how do you tell the difference?

    1. I'm just glad they're inventing something innovative. Wouldn't want one of those other kinds of inventions!

    2. Depends on if you're pro or anti-IP.

      Say I go around patenting every cool technology I see in a scifi movie, TV show, or book. Then when an engineer actually makes the thing work, I claim that it was my idea and that he needs to pay me. It's asinine.

      Millions of people dream of flying cars. But it will be one, or perhaps a small team, who actually make it work.

      Patent trolls are just that asshole in a meeting throwing out bullshit, who when challenged on the details smugly leans back in his chair and says "Hey, I'm a big picture guy. Details are for someone else to work out."

      1. If it depends on whether you're pro or anti-IP, then the term is meaningless.

        So no, not patent trolls.

      2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that that's how patents work. Just thinking "I invented a plasma rifle" isn't IP. You would have to have plans for an actual working model that someone engineered without your permission for there to be an infringement.

    3. The main problem arises when patents are granted too easily, creating unjustifiable monopolies.

      A fine line needs to be drawn in this respect, to prevent there from being "property" in ideas that are too obvious, ubiquitous or just plain worthless.

      1. I have an idea for a bear that walks on its hind legs, but is as fast as a bear that walks on all fours. It came to me in a dream last night. It was a bear farm for bears that walked on two legs. They were terrifying.

        1. I have an idea for a bar for these bears to socialize. It involves not allowing bears in tutus to enter.

    4. Now, is the small company (a) a patent troll, or (b) a little guy getting crushed by the money and power of the big guys. And how do you tell the difference?

      I suppose that really depends on whether the small company actually developed any technology to implement their idea.

      I know a guy who is a patent troll. He has patented a wide variety of ridiculous nonsense and sued people who actually invented shit. His "greatest accomplishment" was "developing" the idea of a search engine aggregator and suing Dogpile/Aaron Flin over the implementation of his idea. Apparently Flin settled by throwing a bunch of money at him to facilitate the sale to Infospace. He's also sued internet news aggregators. He's never written a line of code in his life, I'd be shocked he was able to program a VCR (back when that was still a thing), but he "created" these things and demands remuneration for their actual implementation. And he frequently gets money thrown at him to make him go away.

      Just like these fuckwits who created a nebulous business model about episodic online content and then demanded everyone who has a podcast pay them because they came up with the idea of the podcast.

    5. ...but doesn't have the capital to turn it into a huge international enterprise.

      Which is why you go and find investors. Sorry Hazel, but your hypothetical is way out of whack with reality. Silicon Valley is filled with thousands of individuals and small businesses. They all invent and patent innovative technology. They then go get VC investors. Three years later; Google, Twitter, Apple, etc.

      Only a dope would invent and patent a useful technology, and then let it sit idle because, "Oh well, I don't have the capital to make it big."

      Hint: that never happens.

    6. This really falls under the realm of software patents, which are asinine and should never be granted.

      Full disclosure: I do not believe in imaginary property.

  5. Did Reason really transpose the quote and miswrite "duck tape?"

    1. 'Duck tape' is the proper original term. 'Duct tape' is an eggcorn.

      1. Get a brain, moran!

    2. Good catch. Ace has been correcting that error for over a decade on his various shows. It is "duct tape" because it was made to seal duct work.

      However, Penn & Teller taped many ducks on their show "Bullshit!" when they examined chiropractors.

  6. 1. Good on you Reason for covering this.
    2. Personal Audio does not need Carolla's permission to drop their case. Carolla has brought this up more than a few times on his podcast. Personal Audio has offered a different settlement, with many conditions attached. That is not "dropping" anything, it is bullshit.
    3. OT: Has anybody uncovered the NPR appearance Carolla did that never aired? The host played a Jo Koy bit with Koy doing an Asian speech affect (he is Asian too btw) and the NPR host accused COMEDIAN Adam Carolla of being the speaker and making fun of Asians. Did that ever air? I wonder what that same host would do with Rosie.

    1. I listen to the Aceman every day and I do not think this appearance has ever aired or been released in any way.

      I do remember reading that the NPR outlet decided not to air the interview because it "did not meet their standards".

    2. Right on!

  7. How is it up to Carolla to end this farce? Personal Audio brought the suit and they can drop it whenever they want.

    1. Echoes take two days in here? Big tent!

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