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.


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Comments on “Vonage Says There Is No Workaround To Verizon's VoIP Patents”

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51 Comments
Bits says:

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?

bigpicture says:

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?

Cyryl says:

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*

vapiddreamer says:

Re: 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.

Sanguine Dream says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

George Glass says:

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.

Microsoft Wannabe says:

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.

Anonymous whatever says:

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…

BYte69 says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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???

Dosquatch says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

glitch says:

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

I_HATE_VERIZON says:

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!!!!!

Also Annoyed By Anonymous says:

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.

TimeToGetRidOfVerizon says:

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 $$$$.

shimon says:

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

why not better side with pirate’s bay and make an island of your own ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

the only one who loses is local tax , cause no more taxes on phones, since you use foreign telephony provider ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Vaximily (user link) says:

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

John (profile) says:

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?

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