VoIP? Yeah, That's All Patented Up Too...

from the well,-this-should-be-fun dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    the unknown, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 2:07am

    a new idea for a better world

    I propose that half the money made from idiotic lawsuits should be donated to charitable causes and the other half for venture capitalism in innovative and progressive fields.
    None of the money should be allowed into a personal or commercial bank account.
    Anyone with me?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Meat Pete, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 2:48am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    Sure. But we`d be running the risk of being called commies, or even worse... pirates! YARGH!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    the unknown, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 2:58am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    I'm willing to take that risk. You can call me commie or boris as long as charity and innovation is served. Heck you can call me by all the words in the dictionnary and those not included in my T9 phone for all i care.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Feb 17th, 2006 @ 4:17am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    hear hear! because these patents-lawsuits have absolutely nothing to do with innovation. Only about stiffling competition.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 4:37am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    I propose that half the money made from idiotic lawsuits should be donated to charitable causes and the other half for venture capitalism in innovative and progressive fields.
    I propose, instead, that we take the yearly earnings of any lawyer filing an idiotic lawsuit, and do the same, while simultaneously throwing the idiotic lawsuit out. Then good would be done all around.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 6:24am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    Why does anyone have to be "with you" - stop trying to start a revolution and just have your say.

    And what the hell has charity got to do with anything?? Charities are a bigger waste of money than lawyers!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 6:38am

    No Subject Given

    Chill out dude your getting all upset about black wiggly lines (that would be... writing).

    And there are good charities out there like the Prince' Trust. Providing funding for start up companies, innovative ideas and development etc. Google it, 'tis good.

    I think we should lock up all Lawyers. Oh, and do unmentionable things to them. Repeatedly.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 6:39am

    No Subject Given

    Oh, i forgot to say....

    YAARRR!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    discojohnson, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 6:55am

    no prior art needed

    ...because wouldn't this fall under the non-obvious clause? after all, an IP is a phone number in a sense. why doesn't the telco industry sue anyone using IP because the idea of mapping a number to an object (person, answering machine, etc) was done a long long time ago, to include finding best route (albiet the redundancy probably didn't come to fruition until just before the internet was created). now that would be stifling innovation.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    the unknown, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 7:22am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    For those of us who may confuse a call for revolution with satire let me clarify something on my first statement.

    is anyone with me? = does anyone agree?

    good day...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 7:29am

    No Subject Given

    Sad to see some many anti-patent idiots here...
    The solution is quite simple indeed:
    PTO should spend a little more time on each patent application and corporations should think twice before willfully taking someone else's IP.
    In order to instill a little more honesty and caution into those corporate buttheads, a simple introduction of a jail term for *willfull* stealing of IP from small entities, for example, would do the trick.
    Right now those corporate fucktards don't risk anything at all - it's a provilidge of shareholders to bear all the risk...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Professor Highbrow, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 8:06am

    Bloody Hemmoroids Angry Dude!

    "Sad to see some many anti-patent idiots here.."

    AngryDude, your about as inflammatory as a hemmoroid, and a smuch intelligence as the butt-crack is on.

    The idea of digitally sampling voice and sending it over the TCP/IP protocol is so obvious that it cannot possibly be patented. Besides, international patent law is difficult to enfore anyhow.

    This is about equivalent to claiming to own a patent to "any method of sending digital audio over TCP/IP." Doesn't matter, because the case won't hold water.

    Go order some Preparation V over IP.

    [heeeheheheh.]


     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Nadia, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 8:24am

    patent holding

    Can someone hold on to a patent indefinitely with out doing anything with it? I mean maybe there should be a limit to, say, keep the patent only for a couple of years, unless you actually release something, that is using this patent. It seems that, so many ideas are just patented for the sake of suing someone, who actually makes use of similar technology later. Why isn't this german company use their own patent to produce something?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    pcrh, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 8:41am

    Re: patent holding

    Actually, there are proposed changes in the patent laws that are slowly snaking their way through congress (not sure how far this has actually gone) that include such a provision--that patent holders must produce or license their IP or risk losing some rights. It is intended to prevent submarine patents, where someone sits in IP and waits for it to become more valuable before suing, and refusing to license at a reasonable rate.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    pcrh, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 8:45am

    Re: a new idea for a better world

    How would we judge which lawsuits are idiotic, and which are warranted? (Aren't there already penalties for filing frivolous lawsuits?) And, if the plaintiff had to give up all the award, what motivation would the plaintiff (who presumably lost money--the basis for the suit) have to file suit to begin with? Who would pay for all that? Just asking.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 9:02am

    Re: patent holding

    The sole purpose behind the "patent deform act of 2005" is killing all independent inventors
    (and yes, that will eliminate a large percentage of lawsuits...)
    In other words, those honest corporate folks from Intel, MS, HP etc waht to have a nice little patent system for their and only their needs, not for some garage-type inventors (well ,some of them like HP were started in a garage, but they long forgot about it...)
    Don't you have a little of that substance called brain in your head to see it ?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    jdw242, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    sue for stifling

    every lawyer that willingly engages in the act of stifling innovation should be sued for said act.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 9:12am

    Re: sue for stifling

    Without lawyers, judges and juries you are going to end up working 12-14 hour days in some sweat shop making some of those CEO crooks even richer than they are today...

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 10:10am

    No Subject Given

    It seems prior art could include: Mapping physical MAC addresses to IP's or while we're at it domain names to IP's (since both of those are virtual identifiers like a phone number and an IP).

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 10:49am

    Re: No Subject Given

    What they need to do is rework how patents works. What was the original idea behind patents? To stop people from stealing YOUR idea(s). The key word here is YOUR not all. Lets say I create a VoIP system and patent it. That patent should ONLY cover my version of the idea. Anyone else should be able to create their own version as long as none of it was taken from mine.
    This whole patent crap is just get down right silly.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 10:51am

    No Subject Given

    Grr.. I posted this under somone else's post. Didn't mean for that...

    What they need to do is rework how patents works. What was the original idea behind patents? To stop people from stealing YOUR idea(s). The key word here is YOUR not all. Lets say I create a VoIP system and patent it. That patent should ONLY cover my version of the idea. Anyone else should be able to create their own version as long as none of it was taken from mine.
    This whole patent crap is just get down right silly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Bloody Hemmoroids Angry Dude!

    >The idea of digitally sampling voice and sending >it over the TCP/IP protocol is so obvious that >it cannot possibly be patented.
    The idea is obvious but the implementation is not.
    Much of VoIP patents (the good ones at least) address all the ennumerable and very difficult issues of how to achieve smooth reproduction of real time voice signal pumping it through some protocol (TCP/IP) which was originally designed without any thought that it might be eventually used for real-time voice communications.
    Go back to school before speaking here...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    pcrh, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 12:20pm

    Re: patent holding

    The sole purpose behind the "patent deform act of 2005" is killing all independent inventors

    Don't you have a little of that substance called brain in your head to see it ?

    Perhaps you could enlighten us all by pointing out what parts of that act are intended to kill off independent inventor rights?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 12:36pm

    Re: patent holding

    >Perhaps you could enlighten us all by pointing >out what parts of that act are intended to kill >off independent inventor rights?

    "Injunctive relief" provision is the killer...

    It's already removed from the draft, otherwise it would autoimatically make all patents owned by small (non-manufacturing) inventors unenforcable.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 17th, 2006 @ 1:35pm

    Re: patent holding

    "Injunctive relief" provision is the killer...

    It's already removed from the draft, otherwise it would autoimatically make all patents owned by small (non-manufacturing) inventors unenforcable.


    That's a misleading statement at best, and you know it. Injunctions can be a serious problem, forcing an entire product to be pulled from the market, because one tiny part may have infringed on a patent accidentally and unintentionally.

    It doesn't make patent unenforceable. Inventors could still win in court and be compensated for the use of the patent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    the unknown, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 2:10pm

    we're not worthy! we're not worthy!

    angry dude: i agree that lawyers are essential to the rightful works of a society and an economy, your position on that point is quite accurate in my mind.
    jdw242: agreed, but who would be the judge of that?
    Professor Highbrow: laughableicious insults, nice.
    angry dude (again): fucktard? i will include that one in my T9 dictionary.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------

    First off, forgive me for my frivolous posts that brought nothing very helpful to the discussion at hand.

    Secondly pcrh, considering i have no idea what-so-ever about patent law or lawyer jargon (wasn't that obvious?) your posts are the ones that make most sense to me. Concerning the statement, "proposed changes in the patent laws...that include such a provision that patent holders must produce or license their IP or risk losing some rights"....I thought this is how patent laws work. Maybe in another country than the US, patent laws are given on the condition that one develops the patented technology for use. Such as, if one doesn't come to adequate outcomes within four years, the patent is nulled and anyone is free to develop on those ideas.

    For that matter, and in response to Anonymous coward's no subject post containing, "What was the original idea behind patents? To stop people from stealing YOUR idea(s)". I would add, "and to require that those holding the patents develop their idea(s) for practical use." Once again, if you show no constructive results, your patent is nulled and your ideas can be developed by someone else. I find this, with certain reservations on specific cases such as obstruction by a second party or uncontrollable circumstances (natural disasters, economical issues), to be quite fair.

    Thirdly, and on a side note, there are too many different anonymous cowards. If there was one anonymous coward, ok, that would be one person with consistent ideas and attitude, but at this point it feels like we're dealing with a person suffering from multiple personality disorder. Cowards, it's really easy to create a name, remember it (if you can't use cookies) and reuse it. Please, for the sake of people/geekoids who like to respond to specific posts or insult someone by their name, fill in that space called "name" and make this world a better place. If I am completely disoriented and there is actually only one anonymous coward, let me tell you, sometimes you really are a zit-hole and other times, you are awesome, but still, you confuse me, so i hate you and i love you depending on the way the wind is blowing.

    yours trully,
    the unknown

    In retrospect, all the above thinking isn't quite topic oriented, but i'm trying, and i spent a good deal of time writing this stuff, so given the effort involved, i deem myself worthy of posting it. Anyone disagree? Careful now, i will start quoting from something our forefathers wrote and you will have no other choice than to comply.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 17th, 2006 @ 2:41pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    What was the original idea behind patents? To stop people from stealing YOUR idea(s)

    This is actually not true, and it's part of the reason why we have so many problems today. The original idea behind patents was to encourage innovation (progress, useful sciences, blah blah...). It's not about protection at all, but getting the right incentives in place. At one time, that may have been being overly protective -- but the argument many of us are making is that's no longer the case.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    tracelan, Feb 18th, 2006 @ 11:27am

    No Subject Given

    I have prior art for mapping a phone number to an IP address from 7 years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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