A couple of weeks ago, Verizon won its patent infringement case against Vonage, and pushed for the judge to issue an injunction against the VoIP company in addition to awarding Verizon monetary damages. Today, they got that wish: the judge issued a permanent injunction against Vonage, and gave the company two weeks to organize and appeal and a technical workaround. This is pretty ridiculous, as the judge apparently doesn't agree with the Supreme Court's thoughts on injunctions in patent cases. What's slightly amusing, though, is that Verizon's lawyer essentially admits the company has turned to a lawsuit because it doesn't have any other way to compete in the market and is losing hundreds of thousands of customers to Vonage. A judge bought that line, saying an injunction was necessary because simply awarding damages "does not prevent continued erosion of the client base of the plaintiff." That gets to the heart of the matter: patents don't stand to encourage innovation, but rather simply as a tool to shut down those companies that do innovate. It's a pretty silly way to compete by suing your competition out of business in order to reduce customer choice. After all, wouldn't it be better to have customers who actually want to patronize your business, rather than those who simply do so because they have no choice?
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