In any area that's getting lots of attention, you can expect patent battles to follow. It looks like VoIP may be the next hot area where lots of money will now go to patent lawyers, instead of back into actual innovation. Google is already facing a VoIP patent related lawsuit, and it looks like other cases are on the way. A German telco named Teles is now claiming that it owns patents on switching between a traditional phone line and a VoIP phone line -- and therefore is suing Nokia, who just introduced a UMA phone designed to offer both VoIP and cellular voice over the same device. Of course, as we discussed earlier this week, there are an awful lot of those converged fixed/mobile offerings coming to market, so expect this German company to be suing plenty of others in fairly short order. In fact, the company has hired not one, but three separate law firms in Washington DC to start going after just about everyone. Hurray for innovation. Meanwhile, we've discussed in great detail the incredibly odd history of theGlobe.com -- dot com poster child (where it was never clear what they actually did) to huge IPO poster child to nothing to gaming magazine to VoIP play, each with a ridiculous level of hype. However, now the firm has gleefully announced that it too has a patent. This one is for (I kid you not) an internet telephony network and methods for using the same. The details suggest that this patent covers the concept of mapping phone numbers to IP addresses. Seriously. First of all, there's got to be prior art on this one, and even if there isn't how could you possibly get a patent on an idea as obvious as mapping IP addresses to phone numbers? Since the rumors are that the company is struggling financially, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see its latest business model morph once again to try to leverage this patent into millions of non-innovation dollars.
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