Vonage Says There Is No Workaround To Verizon's VoIP Patents

from the death-knell dept

After a jury sided with Verizon in its patent-infringment case against it, Vonage told customers and investors not to worry, because it was developing a workaround that would allow it to continue operating without infringing upon any of the patents in question. However, the company has now confirmed that there is no such workaround, and it's not certain that one would be feasible, given the breadth of the Verizon patents. It's filing for a permanent stay of the injunction against it, apparently with the hope that the appeals process will work out in its favor. If that move isn't successful, it's going to be awfully hard for the company to stay in business. Seeing the stay denied would be a dream scenario for Verizon, since the patents in question are so broad that it's conceivable it could be impossible to run a landline-replacement VoIP service in the US without infringing upon them -- meaning it could shut down the entire US VoIP industry and the stiff competition it provides the company's traditional phone services. Verizon's not the only company rubbing its hands gleefully, either. The whole VoIP space is so patented up that it's under threat not just from entrenched rivals who would like to see its growth stymied, but by companies that have done little to bring their innovations to market and are looking to make a quick buck.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Bits, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:04pm

    This Makes me Sick

    I follow Techdirt a lot, and I can't really say anything new, except that this makes me sick. A company such as Vonage offers up a decent service and Verizon sues them to put them out of business. Isn't this the actions of a TRUST? What is Verzon going to do next?

    Between USF recovery fees, taxes, fees, and more fees telephone service is expensive. If people can get broadband access and use a cheaper VOIP service, th cost of the two services would be less than if paying for a tradiditional Land Line Service.

    The next question, and this forum doesn't really address this topic, is what can we as consumers DO about their blatent abuse of power?

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Well, corporate america wins another. Guess its time to just lay down and die. Or is it?

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    The entire VoIP industry? Doubtful.

    The cable companies are fine, AT&T is fine. Verizon won't go after companies such as these.

    Vonage is a small VoIP provider, no matter how much hype you hear about them being a big player.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Healthy Sceptic (profile), Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:19pm

    Patents again causing more harm than good

    Here is another case where patents are doing the opposite of what they were intended to do.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Mark, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    Vonage can always offer to pay fair market value for use of techknowledgy it doesn't own. Just like you and I do if we have a DVR such as TiVo for example.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Annoyed by Annonymous, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:22pm

    >Well, corporate america wins another. Guess its time to just lay down and die. Or is it?

    Dude. Please shut up if you don't have anything coherent to say. You don't *have* to post in every thread.

    Please. It's getting old.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    blurby blurb blurb, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:26pm

    off with the exec's heads

    Time for another revolution, French-style this time. Off with all the execs and lawyers heads!

    Oui. Oui.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:27pm

    Re: by Mark

    Vonage can always offer to pay fair market value for use of techknowledgy it doesn't own.

    They did. Verizon refuses to license the patents in question to Vonage, opting instead to litigate them into nonexistance.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Rag, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:41pm

    Re: This Makes me Sick

    I guess as a consumer we shouldn;t sit quiet. We do need to raise our voide.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:51pm

    Let's use our techknowledgy, raise our voide, and invest in a spellchecker. Oh wait... it's free and included in almost everything.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Alex, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: This Makes me Sick

    Yeah, that's enough for me.
    I just called Verizon and killed my Land line and DSL. I am going to get an air card from Sprint for my Internet and I will survive without a land line.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Mischa, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    Sorry, it doesn't seem to come with IE 6. If I'm wrong, then you need to tell me how I can convince the powers that be to install it on my work pc. :-)

    Writing my comments in another program just so I can spell check is too much of a hassle.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:07pm

    How long...

    will be before Verizon rolls out its own "innovative and cutting edge VoIP" service? They are paying attention to the fact that there alots of people that use Vonage and Verizon's hope is once Vonage has been sued into oblivion they can swoop in with some overpriced and crippled service to make money off all those former Vonage customers.

    Kinda like how Netflix tried with Blockbuster.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:15pm

    Hey Techdirt -

    I have an idea about how we can possibly make Verizon feel some hurt for their actions. I propose that you guys set up a website where people can provide their name or sign some kind of petition if they have either cancelled their Verizon service, or refuse to sign up with Verizon due to their actions in this case. I for one will not be signing up with Verizon as a direct result of their legal tactics here. With all the money comong to them from Vonage, they certainly won't be needing my money too. They can kiss me goodbye as a customer. If they can see in some sort of tangible way what the actual opportunity cost for them was, then perhaps the next company might think a little harder before taking steps like this. Consumers are paying attention!!

    Hey, Verizon! Can you hear me now? Good.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: by Mischa

    It does... it's called the INTERNET.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    George Glass, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    No more software patents

    Does anybody really think we need any patents on computer software, ever? We already have copyright protection, and really software just does things digital instead of analog, or in a virtual way instead of a real way. Telephone is prior art. Any internet programmer can come up with a way to digitize voice and send it over the internet given enough time to work on it. I don't think every time someone comes up with a way to do something with the internet instead of the old way, that they should get a patent. It's practically illegal to have a thought if someone has had that thought before. Software is data, like a book - it should be copyrighted like a book - not patented.

    To say it's getting ridiculous is an understatement.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    All those guys for the verizon "network"

    It just occurred to me that all those guys you see in the Verizon commercials that are part of the "network" are actually all lawers. lol...

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Microsoft Wannabe, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    Microsoft Wannabe

    Isn't this the same sort of thing Microsoft was in at one time? Isn't this cornering the market and creating a monopoly? Since when does free trade and fair market pracitces get stoped with patents. Shouldn't this patent get thrown out and a new one written with what Verizon really made? Maybe Vonage should patent how VoIP is marketed and then when Verizon tries to mainstream its so call application Vonage can sue them back. Hey I don't use this service from any of them but this is just a shame and a shame on a judge to rule on such a thing. Verizon has not created anything, they have only turned into little bitches that can't get the job done any more.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    Re: How long...

    How is this anything like Netflix and Blockbuster?

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    ChJees, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:44pm

    This is sick...

    Well, the Battlefield Games should by Verizon practically be sued because they have VoIP technology in them.
    Hmm... A lot of other game companies are going to be sued too that uses VoIP for ingame voicechatting. :S
    Anyway, i am lucky to live in Europe. For now...

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    i have vonage and love it. Thank god I dont have verizon here in the midwest for land line, had them for a cellular phone and it SUCKED so bad.

    I'll stick with VOIP, just guess i'll switch to comcast

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous whatever, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    How long

    has verizon had this tecknowledgy??!? they dont really care about providing anything sort of service for the consumer. this just goes to show how money hungry they really are. If they are saying there is no way around verizon's patents then this means voip as a whole is a total monopoly solely owned by verizon... I guess its back to my 3700 line item $htty verizon bill. yea right...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    BYte69, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:51pm

    Vonage/Verizon

    I hope Vonage unlocks all the adapters when they go and then we can all use whatever service we want that IS NOT Verizon. Time to build a OPENSOURCE phone exchange. Build a few Astrisk PBX's with capability to call POTS. Charge only for used bandwidth on POTS calls. Maybe someone could work out a deal with Google for some of there Dark fiber capability.

    BYte69

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Patent

    Does anyone know exactly what this patent encompasses? they are making it seem like verizon holds the patents that allow for "VOICE" over "THE INTERNET" this would mean the following but not limited to these companies are infringing: AIM, MSN, YAHOO, VENTRILLO, CISCO, ATT, COMCAST, COX, COVAD, AVAYA, and EVERY other company that uses VoIP... etc?!?!? can anyone clairify???

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:00pm

    The patents

    If you look at the links on the article and read the patents. You'll start to wonder, how in the hell can someone patent something that simple! That's like putting a patent out on breathing or walking.

    Whoever the dumb ass that issued this patent needs to have his teeth kicked in! Patent's like this should be revoked by the Patent Office.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    glitch, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    today i quit verizon

    i took great pleasure advising them i was going with Vonage, then I read this....oh well....i did keep verizon only for 911 access...i had verizon voicewing and also tt&t call vantage..they are no where near as reliable as Vonage..i also had Comcast Digital Voice...they weren't any better...and why I went back to verizon...right now, i am on http://www.voipreview.org/ and will have a back-up service in place...just in case

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    I_HATE_VERIZON, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:41pm

    I hate Verizon

    Verizon is the worst company. I don't have a land line because of them. I refuse any of my money to go to those idiots.

    Their service sucks, they can't even perform maintenance on their lines without everything going down, and then if you try to talk to anyone over the phone, you will only get the most incompetent person that ever walked the face of the earth.

    They should not be in business, and having the patent only gives them the ability to screw up even more with no repercussions and lose business. I agree with the last person: "Whoever the dumb ass that issued this patent needs to have his teeth kicked in!" AND VERIZON NEEDS TO BE OUT OF BUSINESS, THEY SUCK!!!!!


    They should not be in business and having the patent only gives them the ability to screw up even more with no reprocussions. I agree with the last person: "Whoever the dumb ass that issued this patent needs to have his teeth kicked in!" AND VERIZON NEEDS TO BE OUT OF BUSINESS, THEY SUCK!!!!!

     

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  28.  
    icon
    slimcat (profile), Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re:

    This is a nice spell checker that should take care of your IE 6 problem.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Also Annoyed By Anonymous, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:49pm

    Annoyed by Annonymous

    Event though there were many well considered posts here today, by far the most on point was by "Annoyed by Annonymous".

    There is really no reason to post in every single thread. Sometimes, you should consider keeping your senseless blathering to yourself, so that people can read pertinent posts. As it is, it is extremely difficult to suffer your entries to get to the remaining few.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    TimeToGetRidOfVerizon, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    Verizon is a horrible phone company

    Verizon is the least consumer oriented company I've ever dealt with. I switched to another carrier and went completely wireless.

    Time to vote with your dollars folks, take em somewhere else.

    The American people have more power than they think and it is all in where they spend their $$$$.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Cyryl, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:01pm

    Re: 5. by Mark on Apr 16th, 2007 @ 1:21pm

    "Vonage can always offer to pay fair market value for use of techknowledgy it doesn't own. Just like you and I do if we have a DVR such as TiVo for example."

    No they can't. And they WOULDN'T DARE. Do you have NY idea how much they would owe on back payments ALONE for the time that they HAVE been using Verizon's technology? More than they're currently fiscally worth. By a great sum I'm sure.

    Not to mention... Verizon would LAUGH in their faces considering the platform of extreme advantage that this clearly gives them in the industry.

    They WANT Vonage dead. And for good reasons. They ARE a competitor against their service and that's that.

    Startin' to look like I'm going to have to take other phone carrier options into consideration here...

    I fucking HATE the industry's current standing. What? Customers?

    FUCK the customers! WHO CARES!?

    Fuck you, Verizon.

    And FUCK YOU TOO, VONAGE. For making all of these WONDERFUL decisions. (Including your COMPLETELY BOTCHED effort at an IPO offering. ASSHOLES.)

    Come to think of it...I'm about TIRED of Vonage anyway. Fuck'em.

    *shrugs*

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Town Fool, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:04pm

    I thought GTE was bad and then they became Verizon and it does get worse.. I Spit on verizon

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    SO SAD TO BAD, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:06pm

    WHO CARES

    Find whats good for you and use it when it goes away find another one.

    Thanks SKYPE..

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    shimon, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:07pm

    move out

    just put down a network base with good satellite up link something on a remote island and put on web-page Verizon can kiss me behind there patents :)

    why not better side with pirate's bay and make an island of your own :)

    and just pump VoIP all over the world, if someone wants to connect a telephone system to internet is perfectly legal, doesn't matter what the law says :)

    Long live Free Internet !!! And Cheap VoIP !!!

    as long as there is a stable and good connection to net, doesn't really matter where servers are :)

    the only one who loses is local tax , cause no more taxes on phones, since you use foreign telephony provider :)

    well there is a work around, but too round maybe ...

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Have you ever tried Firefox? It spell checks anything you type into text-boxes by automatically underling misspelled words. It offers suggestions via right-click. Very handy.

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    vapiddreamer, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:28pm

    Re:

    Yeah, cause Verizon does own that tech, right?? Cause they filed an absurdly broad range of patents on tech that they 'invented'.
    No one else was working on that tech at the time, it had no 'prior art', none of it was in any way obvious, and they came up with it all on their own. Uh huh, SURE. You should stay away from slashdot, you'll get modded down as parent or troll there, fool.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Mischa, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I love Firefox, use it exclusively at home. Unfortunately, I'm not supposed to install anything on my work PC. :-(

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    jason, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 4:50pm

    will we be allowed out of our contracts?

    Will those of us in a contract be allowed out without penalty? I might as well switch to CallVantage with AT&T.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re: How long...

    What I meant by that is waiting til someone else does the innovative work in whatever market then suing them.

    Netflix waited for over a year after Blockbuster went online to sue it for various infringments.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    bigpicture, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 5:21pm

    Re: This Makes me Sick

    So then ask yourself, what or who does the patent system serve? Does it encourage innovation? Or does it stymie innovation, and support monopoly and greed, and other forms of gouging by outfits that don't even produce products or services.

    How does this create competition or otherwise serve the public? Would it not be better for everyone, on fast moving technologies, that patents only lasted 2 or 3 years?

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 5:25pm

    ideas

    Looks like Verizon has simply patented the idea of interconnecting voice transmission over the internet with the regular telephone system and written down the immediately obvious and necessary components of any such system.

    If the USPTO and the Federal Court can't do better than that then its time for a change in staff.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Scott, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 5:29pm

    Skype

    Just use Skype it is cheaper and has worked great for me.
    Mabe Vonage and Skype can work out a deal.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Pedro, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 7:50pm

    I hope they fold. I'm so sick of that song and their dumb commercials...

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Vaximily, Apr 16th, 2007 @ 8:13pm

    Protestors

    Well I live in Oregon, the biggest Democratic state in this country... oh yay... and a bunch of idiots were out picketing against one of Bush's (don't get me wrong, he's no saint) advisers the other day blocking up traffic that was already horrendous at 6pm.

    Just made me think, we should all get a ton of people to go protest at every Circuit City (Verizon Wireless), Verizon Office, Verizon Kiosk, Verizon Store, or anything even related to Verizon.

    Maybe even setup a website and specify times each week for different locations.

    I have a bit of server space if there are any good website designers out there who want to pitch in.

    Email me... efmweb at gmail dot com

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    bornagainpenguin, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 2:42am

    Re: Microsoft Wannabe

    Yeah, because that worked so well for Microsoft, didn't it?

    After the whole Microsoft anti-trust thing was over I felt like I was watching Monty Python, not real life... 'Or I shall taunt thee again' indeed!

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Paul, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 4:27am

    Re: Re:

    (1) There is a spellcheck plugin available for IE6
    (2) In other words, you are too lazy and lack sufficient pride to care.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Come off it Paul, he said he can't install anything on his work computer, or he'd be using Firefox-- besides, like you've never made a typo or misspelling before.

    Sheesh. (Which Firefox tells me is not spelled correctly.)

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 7:32am

    Re: Patent

    Does anyone know exactly what this patent encompasses?

    The Cliff's Notes version is: the patents cover connecting a VoIP call to a traditional POTS landline, and are written broadly enough as to cover just about any technical solution you might imagine to accomplish such. VoIP to VoIP is still fine, only dialling out to a traditional number is kiboshed. And, thus so will be true of any VoIP provider, Vonage just happens to be the lucky candidate on the block today.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    el oh el, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Patent

    Thanks for answering my question! :)

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    John, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    Who's next

    The big question that hasn't been answered is: who's next in line for Verizon to sue? If they're succesfull at shutting done Vonage (or getting tons of money from them), what's to stop Verizon from suing a deep-pocketed company like AT&T, Comcast, or Time Warner/ Bright House?
    Would those companies make a gazillion-dollar deal with Verizon instead of risking Verizon taking them to court and shutting down their VOIP services?

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    wow, Apr 18th, 2007 @ 2:45pm

    damn verizon

    Has everyone seen all the verizon advertisements poping up for unlimited calling for your home?!? what a rip off... they are charging double for what vonage is offering!!!

     

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


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