And The Hits Keep On Coming For Vonage: Loses Another Patent Decision

from the ouch dept

Vonage is not having a very good week. Just after a jury sided with Sprint over Vonage in a patent dispute, the appeals court has affirmed the injunction against Vonage from the similar Verizon patent case that was decided earlier this year. The only small victory for Vonage is that the appeals court sent back the ruling on one of the three patents in question. Vonage is claiming that the ruling barely matters, since it's already developed a workaround for the other two patents. Of course, that's what they say -- not what Verizon or the courts have said. And, it still seems likely that Vonage is going to need to pay out quite a bit in terms of damages for the patents the court affirmed. Again, the point still stands from yesterday. Despite the court's rulings, these patents are highly questionable, with a tremendous amount of prior art. Even if you take as a given that the patents are valid, they had nothing to do with Vonage's success -- which was based on figuring out the right marketing and business models to attract users, not on the same technology that was obvious to everyone in the space. The telcos who are now suing Vonage couldn't (or didn't want to) figure out this model in order to protect their legacy voice business. To now force Vonage to pay those companies when it was the one who actually innovated shows the travesty of the current patent system.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 5:43pm

    travesty

    "travesty" is an understatement.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    US Patent Office decrier, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 6:45pm

    Verizon & Patents

    I'm dropping their service (Verizon) due to their willingness to do wholesale cheating of their customers via bogus patents. I agree with the tone of the article - very accurate.

    The US patent process is inept - but alas the political process to 'fix' it is both inept AND corrupt. I pray (if that's still allowed) that the Supremes get involved.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 6:50pm

    " I pray (if that's still allowed) that the Supremes get involved."

    I'm afraid I have the patent on praying and you will need to cease and desist until the proper royalty fees are paid.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 6:51pm

    I don't get it.

    If the Vonage service was entirely in violation of the Verizon patent than isn't the Sprint patent in violation of Verizon's? I don't have much info on Sprint's but from the sounds of it "Internet Calling" is infringing on Verizon's. Also sounds like both need to be invalidated because it's just too damn obvious.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 7:12pm

    Re: Verizon & Patents

    Dude,

    The Patent Office is underfunded and understaffed of course
    But the Supreme Court is absolutely clueless about patents and patent law.
    Just read their recent decisions
    They hurt more than they help

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    US Patent Office decrier, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Your patent on praying

    OK I will cease and decist - if you tell me what the proper fees are. Perhaps 100% of my profit from praying? (Note before you head to the bank - I don't think I've had any prayer answered, and I have not sought or engaged the expertise of an intermediary (priest, etc.) to improve my prayer profitability.

    Also (though the patent office clearly doesn't care about this) I think I can document some prior art - - - -

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: Your patent on praying

    Prayer fees are based on a percentage of your total net worth due to the fact that any benefits, or perceived benefits, are generally of an intangible nature and any relationship to a tangible "profit" is not practicable.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Danny, Sep 26th, 2007 @ 9:58pm

    Re: I don't get it.

    Simple. Verizon and Sprint both know that if hey were to get into a patent battle it would get very expensive and while the result would make a lot of money for the lawyers of the winner the losing company would not go out of business. On the other hand if they double team Vonage they can eliminate a competitor, eliminate an actual innovator, rake in a lot of money, and put out a press release of them "defending their patent" to the ignorant masses.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 6:37am

    It is incorrect to state that the patents are highly questionable and in fact, in court, Vonage didn't even argue that in their appeal.

    Linking to your own article concerning highly questionable patents doesn't make it so. Of course Jeff Pulver would talk about this, he was an early investor.

    Vonage now says they have a workaround, so they won't be shut down. My question is this. When you start a business, shouldn't you make sure you are not voilating other folks patents first? Wouldn't that be a good idea?

    OK, I start a company, use other companies patented work and offer my service for half the price while at the same time taking out ads everywhere. Thats what you call innovation?

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    It is incorrect to state that the patents are highly questionable and in fact, in court, Vonage didn't even argue that in their appeal.

    Linking to your own article concerning highly questionable patents doesn't make it so. Of course Jeff Pulver would talk about this, he was an early investor.


    You seem to be conveniently ignoring the REST of the prior art, not to mention that just because an investor in Vonage points out some prior art to Verizon's patents, that does not make the prior art invalid.

    Linking to previous TD articles is fine, as those previous articles link to outside sources. There's no reason to rewrite everything...

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:39am

    3 trials have taken a look at the patents and let them stand. How can they be considered "highly questionable"?

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    3 trials have taken a look at the patents and let them stand. How can they be considered "highly questionable"?

    The patents are not on trial here. Trials have nothing to do with how valid/invalid a patent is. Trials determine infringement and assume that a patent is valid. In order for a patent to be invalidated, it has to be reviewed and retracted by the patent office, which can often take longer than a trial.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 1:55pm

    When Verizon first filed its lawsuit, it said that Vonage was infringing on seven of its patents. It later revised its complaint, and the jury ultimately considered five patents. The jury was asked not only to decide whether Vonage had infringed on its patents, but also whether the patents themselves were valid. The jury found that all five patents were valid, but it only decided that Vonage violated three of them.


    The jury was asked whether the patents themselves were valid.

    If you have a problem with that statement, take it up with ZDNET

    I would put a link to it, but Techdirt would then block the post.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 3:27pm

    Re:

    Why would techdirt block a post with a link to zdnet?

    Not saying they would, (or wouldn't), just wondering why you say they would.

    Curious minds need to know.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Willton, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:21pm

    Wrong again

    The patents are not on trial here. Trials have nothing to do with how valid/invalid a patent is. Trials determine infringement and assume that a patent is valid. In order for a patent to be invalidated, it has to be reviewed and retracted by the patent office, which can often take longer than a trial.

    Boy, you know nothing about patent law. If Vonage countersues for patent invalidity, the patents are definitely on trial. Patents do have a presumption of validity, but that does not mean that cannot be invalidated in court. If the patents really are bad patents, Vonage could have invalidated them using any number of tools in their arsenal.

    If the patents are still deemed valid, that means either Vonage has some bad lawyers or the PTO actually did a good job.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Willton, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:20pm

    "To now force Vonage to pay those companies when it was the one who actually innovated shows the travesty of the current patent system."

    To allow Vonage to use technology that they did not develop and not give any sort of credit to the maker of the technology is more of a travesty. Vonage may have innovated in a business model sort of way, but it did not invent or even improve the technology, and that is the crux of the problem. The patents' specifications explicitly state the technology that Vonage is using. The fact that Vonage could come up with a useful business model for the technology is great and all, but they did not come up with the invention; Verizon's assignor did. Vonage could easily have contracted for a license of some sort, but instead it stole the invention for its own benefit. That is what is wrong.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Sep 28th, 2007 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    I don't think that Techdirt is blocking links to ZDNet per se, just that I have found that posts with a link get the "we will review your post" message. Probably a spam filter.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This