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Trademark Challenges in Podcast Industry: An In-Depth Exploration of Legal Dynamics, Industry Trends and Best Practices

Feb. 21, 2024   •   Satyam Mishra, BALLB Student of University of Allahabad.


Podcasting, a modern evolution of storytelling has witnessed a remarkable journey from the era of the nostalgic radio show "YAADON KA IDIOT BOX WITH NEELESH MISHRA" to the contemporary podcasting landscape on platforms like Spotify and YouTube where storytelling has seamlessly evolved. Earlier, there were only radios through which the audience listened to that voice but now that the platform has changed there is a proper studio set up through which the audience can see those RJ’s and entertain themselves in a better way. The medium would surely change but the story itself would broadly remain the same. The podcast host extends invitations to guests for discussions or interviews on specific subjects.

In 2023, the number of podcast listeners worldwide amounted to 464.7 million internet users. The number of podcast listeners worldwide will reach 504.9 million by 2024 or around 23.5% of Internet users, according to Statista's data.

According to the Podcast Index, there are an estimated 4,281,844 podcast episodes as of 2024, and to date as of February 12, 2024, it is 4,100,964.


Beginning in the 1980s, podcasting has a long and illustrious history. Podcasting was inconvenient and not particularly accessible for the average individual when Robb Durbin launched the first one in 1997. It was a matter of magic during that time. The initial podcast hosted on a blog debuted in 2003. The introduction of iTunes 4.0 in 2005 was the catalyst for the notable rise in popularity of podcasting. Currently, millions of listeners tune in to listen to their favourite podcasts on a range of themes from news and politics to comedy and true crime making podcasting a massive industry in today’s generation. Dave Winer an engineer by profession, is widely recognized as the podcasting pioneer. Thanks to his development of the first audio RSS feed.

Here are some reasons for the popularity of podcasts:

  1. One of the prominent reasons for the growth of podcasts in India is the accessibility and affordability of the internet which connects rural areas to the podcasting ecosystem.
  2. Unlike radio and TV, it gives a flexible listening time to the audience.
  3. Audiences are not dependent on what TV or radio wants them to see or listen to but podcasts give them the opportunity to listen to what they want. There is a podcast for every topic.
  4. A podcast creator can make a number of series for different topics like: educational series, case study series, interview series, etc.
  5. Podcasts give a diverse monetization model to the podcast creator including sponsorships, ads, etc. rather than relying on a limited traditional model of revenue.

Trademark challenges:

Podcasts have legal compliances that involve copyright law, privacy policies, trademark protection and interview rights among other things. Unauthorized use of third-party content by podcasters can result in legal complications.

Trademark conflicts in podcasting are very a common issue. This is because podcasts can use names, slogans and logos that resemble existing trademarks leading to legal disputes and potential legal action.

Navigating trademark conflicts in podcasting requires understanding the trademark laws and guidelines to protect your intellectual property. Obtaining the right type of trademark, registering it and enforcing it can be crucial when a potential trademark conflict arises. It is essential to conduct a thorough search to determine if a podcast name or brand already exists. If there is a conflict, consider using a different name or strategy for promoting the brand. Seeking legal advice can be beneficial in navigating these complex issues.

The Relevant Cases:

  • Oprahdemics vs. Harpo Inc.

Harpo Inc. sued Oprahdemics podcast creators for alleged trademark infringement, claiming unauthorised use of Oprah Winfrey's name and logo. The dispute highlights the fine line that must be drawn between upholding intellectual property rights and allowing for free speech in media and entertainment law, sparking discussions on the relationship between trademark law and academic endeavours.

  • Podcastone Vs. PatentPodcast

In this case, the creator of PatentPodcast was sued for trademark infringement by PodcastOne. The court declared that PatentPodcast is prone to causing confusion with the trademarks owned by PodcastOne, thereby resulting in potential consumer confusion.

  • This American Life vs. Serial Parody

This American Life initiated a trademark infringement lawsuit against the parody podcast Serial for similarities in logo, format and storytelling. The court pronounced that, “the similarity in logo alleging creates confusion among the listeners”. The verdict underscored the significance of acknowledging ‘fair use’ and parody defences in such cases, highlighting the nuanced legal considerations surrounding intellectual property disputes in the podcasting domain.

To the present date, in India, there have not been such infringement cases in the podcast industry. However, the Delhi High Court asserts search engines are liable for potential liability for allowing third parties to use trademarks as keywords highlighting “Caution is advised when using similar terms to avoid potential trademark infringement”.

Podcast Industry Trends:

  • Arising of Niche Podcast

Finding out how niche podcasts are becoming more popular is one of the most important aspects of how they cater to particular audiences and how trademark protection helps them carve out a place for themselves in the market.

  • Monetisation Strategies

Examining the several revenue streams for podcasts such as premium subscriptions and sponsorships. Finding out how to protect your brand's revenue streams with trademark protection is very important.

  • Global Reach

Acknowledging the global reach of podcasts and the ways in which international listenership influences worldwide branding considerations for trademarks is disappointing.

  • Partnership and Collaborations of Brands

Examine how the podcasters are collaborating with brands and influencers. Learn how trademark protection can safeguard the integrity of these partnerships in total.

Best Practices to Avoid Potential Trademark Conflicts in Podcasting:

  1. Before releasing a podcast, make sure the chosen name or brand does not violate any already-registered trademarks by conducting a comprehensive trademark search and investigation.
  2. To reduce the possibility of confusion, stay away from using names that are already strongly associated with well-known podcasters or established brands.
  3. Create a distinct and unique brand identity for your podcast to minimise the likelihood of trademark conflicts.
  4. Do not copy the branding, logos or formats of other podcasts in order to respect their intellectual property rights and trademarks.
  5. To prevent possible trademark infringement claims, be aware of the fair use and parody defences as well as the requirements and limitations for using these defences.
  6. Consistently monitor and review your podcast's branding and content to ensure continual adherence to trademark laws.

Understanding the potential trademark infringement risks and adopting these best practices can help podcasters mitigate legal disputes and protect their brand identities within the podcasting realm.


The podcast industry's growth and trademark challenges underscore the need for creators to navigate legal complexities diligently. Understanding best practices and learning from case studies can fortify podcasters against potential trademark conflicts, ensuring the protection of their brand identities in this evolving medium.

This Article has been written by Satyam Mishra, BALLB Student of University of Allahabad.

The author affirms that this article is an entirely original work, never before submitted for publication at any journal, blog or other publication avenue. Any unintentional resemblance to previously published material is purely coincidental. This article is intended solely for academic and scholarly discussion. The author takes personal responsibility for any potential infringement of intellectual property rights belonging to any individuals, organizations, governments or institutions.

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