The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple another handful of patents this week, according to Patently Apple. Among this group is a patent (US 8,245,924) that describes "Techniques and systems for supporting podcasting." These techniques include ways for "hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts."
Many of the techniques are activities you would expect from a podcast system including the automatic updating of podcast episodes and the use of a portable subscription file that contains episode information. The patent also describes a portable media device that is used to manage and playback the podcast content. As Patently Apple notes, this is a patent and not a trademark award. Contrary to a circulating report, Apple does not own the rights to the word "Podcasting."
If the version of iTunes in the patent photo looks old, that's because podcast support was added in iTunes 4.9.