Quick! Who Else Has A VoIP Patent That Vonage Can Settle Over?

from the sue-and-settle! dept

We've covered in too much detail how it's some sort of "open season" on Vonage when it comes to VoIP patents. After dealing with ridiculous and expensive patent lawsuits from companies who failed to actually innovate in the same way Vonage did, the company was pressured by Wall Street to quickly settle the various patent lawsuits filed against the company. Of course, rather than settle matters, that simply opened the door for other companies to go searching through their patent portfolios to see if there was anything they could sue Vonage over. Indeed, following those settlements it didn't take long for AT&T to dig up a patent and sue -- which was quickly settled as well. Thought things were over? No such luck. Nortel just showed up last month to sue and it took all of about a week and a half for Vonage to settle that case as well.

The Nortel case is slightly different because Vonage actually already had a patent infringement lawsuit going against Nortel, but it wasn't really initiated by Vonage. Instead, it had been initiated by a patent holding firm that Vonage bought in 2006. The end result of the settlement doesn't involve money changing hands, but just a cross licensing agreement for the patents. So what's the big lesson that Vonage and others have learned from this? It's certainly got nothing to do with innovating. It's to hoard as many patents as possible so that you have your own nuclear stockpile for when someone else sues you. Want to know why the USPTO is overwhelmed? It's not because there aren't enough examiners (as some will claim) or that there aren't enough funds. It's because the way the system now works is that you are supposed to file patents on every tiny little advancement so you can use it to protect yourself against lawsuits from everyone else. That's not about innovation. It's about waste. In the meantime, since it's still open season at Vonage, who's going to be next? There are a ton of other patents in the VoIP space that can surely be used in a lawsuit, right?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pete, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 4:50am

    It would be interesting if there was a way to figure out what all these patent lawsuits actually cost consumers. I ask this because I assume some of the settlement costs and law firm retainer costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher product costs. I also wonder how many new products we will never see because some company holds the patents but for whatever reason decides not to develope the product and prevents other companies from developement.

     

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  2.  
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    angry dude, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 6:30am

    Idiotas

    Dude

    go get your GED first

    Each and every high-tech product you use everyday like your shitty comp, keyboard and mouse owes its very existence to the the US Patent system

    Now stop using your shitty comp if you don't want patents around and GFY and tell Mikey to do the same

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:04am

    Re: Idiotas

    Pete had a vary good question and you just start berating him for something that he didn't say. Where the hell did he even suggest that patents are wrong? Where the hell did Mike say that?

    Patents on truly innovative ideas, like the computer chip way back in the day, are good, but somehow I don't think anyone can enforce a patent on a computer chip today. VoIP is just too bloody obvious to patent and it douse bring about higher costs for the customers.

    I think the only "idiota" here is you.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    BoxFiesta, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:05am

    Hmmm

    So what you're saying is computers wouldn't exist without patents?

    Kinda like how music wouldn't exist without copyright laws right?

    Makes sense... NOT

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Brian, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:15am

    Re: Idiotas

    Technically, even MORE high tech products would exist without patents, because everyone could copy and build on each other's innovations without restriction. Technology existed prior to patents and would continue to grow if patents were never thought up. The old saying isn't "Patents are the mother of all invention".

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Thom, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:37am

    Patent litigation = Money Laundering

    You think all this patent litigation and the multi-tens-of-million dollar settlements are real? Haha! What you're seeing is the latest trend in money laundering. There's nothing like a well publicized patent battle and settlement to legitimize a series of multi-million dollar transfers where huge chunks of cash and net-worth appear and disappear in the process. It's so easy to cook the books, misdirect or discover funds, and clean out the corporate accounts that the CEOs are considering firing themselves for not thinking of this years ago.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Jason Still, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 7:44am

    Re: Idiotas

    I can think of one man in particular that does a wonderful job of bashing the myth of "inventors wouldn't invent if it wasn't for the patent system."

    George Washington Carver

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:19am

    Re: Hmmm

    This is precisely what I'm saying

    When you eventually grow up you will understand why

    For now just read some history books about the invention of transistor at Bell Labs, then integrated curcuit at TI, before that the CRT monitor (read TV), then first computer mouse etc. etc. etc.
    People and companies do not invent and develop new technologies to freely share them with the rest of the world
    They do it to make money, lots of money
    it's all about money, dude
    get used to the fact
    I know you will, eventually

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:48am

    Re:

    Damn, this is why we don't have flying cars! Damn patent hoarders!!!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re: Hmmm

    Funny, I have read the history books. Did you know that Apple stole the mouse idea from Xerox? And Bill stole it from Apple? As far as I saw, there were no patent disputes about that.

    Now you suggest, not come right out and say, that Bell Labs has/had a patent on the transistor. Imagine if they didn't develop it and just sued TI when they invented the integrated circuit. No one would have gotten any money. That is what Mike is saying. If the world dose revolve around money like you claim, these people are idiots for not following the money.

    Your claim that Computers would not exist without patents is wrong and easily disproved. The mouse example is perfect for that. I don't know if Xerox had a patent but I know it wasn't enforced.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Hmmm

    yeah, the original mouse and gui were developed by xerox, then stolen by steve jobs, and bill gates then stole it from him, computers and technology wouldn't be where they are today if the patent system was used back then like it is today. Each time these guys "borrowed" from the previous guy they each made their own changes and improvements or enhancements that made it better, if you stop someone from making your product better then you don't have to make it better yourself and we're all stuck with trs-80's and ford model t's.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    Moron

    always do your homework before speaking up

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_mouse

    But of course htis is just techdirt so WTF cares

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Pete, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Back in 1914 Ford Motor Company took the idea of production- line manufacturing of affordable automobiles that was first debuted by Ransom Olds in 1902, expanded the concept and patented it resulting in a significate increase in production while reducing costs. Ford at one point considered suing other car companies because they used the assembly line in their production, but decided against, realizing it was essential to creation and expansion of the industry as a whole. I wish we had CEO's today that were willing to show such foresight and intelligence.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    OK so we missed one person in the chain. That still doesn't exclude Xerox, Apple, or Microsoft and my point is still valid.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Hmmm

    People and companies do not invent and develop new technologies to freely share them with the rest of the world
    They do it to make money, lots of money


    And, no one has ever claimed that you can't make money without patents, other than angry dude. Of course, he's flat out wrong on that, and knows that, because we've pointed out examples over and over again where people make plenty of money and continue to innovate without patents.

    How does Angry Dude respond? With lies, personal attacks on me and crude language. Very convincing.

    What is most amazing to me is angry dude's inability to actually respond to evidence when presented or to respond when we've pointed out his outright fabrications.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    Mikey, your so-called "evidence" or "research" you shop around is same as toilet paper
    Yep, all those law or economics "scholars" should write on toilet paper rolls, cause that's where all that research goes... down the toilet

    Same applies to your shitty blog
    No one will remember it in a few short years

    get a real jobs dude
    the one you have sucks

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:21am

    new patent law...

    I wonder what the downside would be to creating a law that basically says that you have a certain grace period, say 2 years, to show evidence that you are developing the technology, and say 10 years to get it to market in some form, otherwise the patent becomes public domain. That way you couldn't just hoard a bunch of patents that you don't have any intention of bringing to market. There would, of course, need to be some roubustness to this law that would allow for development of technologies that will take a very lengthy amount of development to introduce. Any thoughts?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, I think it's probably due to the difficulties and expense of flight control systems and the amount of energy required to fly a car is far greater than the energy required to make it roll along the ground. Not to mention the fact that, people are mostly horrible drivers, imagine them operating in three dimensions!

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    Mikey, your so-called "evidence" or "research" you shop around is same as toilet paper
    Yep, all those law or economics "scholars" should write on toilet paper rolls, cause that's where all that research goes... down the toilet


    Angry dude, see, when normal people find something that they disagree with, they explain why it's wrong. They don't just declare it wrong.

    I'm afraid you're going to need a little bit more to back up your assertions. You see here in the real world where stuff actually happens, when people make arguments, they back them up.

    You have yet to do so. In fact, the few times you've tried to make points they were easily proven as wrong.


    get a real jobs dude


    Funny. I'm not the frustrated angry one. My job is working out quite well. It would appear that the only person having trouble making a living is you.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Hmmm

    Actually, computers were invented because of the need of a fast, accurate firing solution for field artillary. Patents didn't really have anything to do with it. If patents didn't exist, computers still would, because they are a tool.

    Music? The best music is born of passion, love, and creativitiy. Without copyright, we just probably wouldn't have nearly so much 'pop' music that really just sucks anyway.

    Now, that said, I very much believe in intellectual property rights.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Eliot, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    angry dude

    Wow. Mike, I'm sorry. You seem to have a great fanboy/troll here in angry dude. This is just impressive. I've never seen someone behave so immaturely so persistently ... no, wait, I did. When I had to baby-sit a 7-year-old.

    Angry dude, find another hobby, this one is just pathetic.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Re: angry dude

    "Angry dude, find another hobby, this one is just pathetic"

    This is not a hobby, idiot

    it's more like a 5 min smoking break

    Reading Mike's nonsense on techdirt for 4.5 min then typing some critique for another 30 sec

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 1:49pm

    Re: angry dude

    "it's more like a 5 min smoking break"

    In other words, instead of a nicotine fix, 'angry dude' gets off on the responses to his baseless arguments and sophomoric insults.

    What else would you expect from a supposed Ph.D. recipient?

     

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  24.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: angry dude

    Reading Mike's nonsense on techdirt for 4.5 min then typing some critique for another 30 sec

    "Critique" would imply that you actually respond to something I wrote with a response. That would be a HUGE step forward from the typical insult and/or lie. Considering that you've admitted to lying about me in the past and then chose to continue to repeat the lies, I think what we have is more of a falsified, baseless attack rather than any "critique."

    I would welcome a critique.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    Actually, computers were invented because of the need of a fast, accurate firing solution for field artillary. Patents didn't really have anything to do with it.

    The research and development were paid for by the government. Mausely and Eckert claimed patents but their patent claims were ultimately found to be invalid. While the patents were being disputed the existence of the patent claims slowed down the progress of computing.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    read a real book, Jan 2nd, 2008 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmmm

    get a library card and look it up there not on wikipedia!

     

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