Verizon Gets Smacked Down For Its VoIP Patent Suing Spree

from the so-much-for-whacking-cable-competitors dept

Verizon was one of the last players to the VoIP party. Cable companies had been offering VoIP for years, and then Vonage, AT&T and a variety of other startups really built the market before Verizon even bothered to enter the space with an overpriced, uninspiring “me too” product that the market made clear it didn’t want. Yet, somehow, Verizon was able to get some patents on the technology, despite a ton of rather clear prior art that showed Verizon’s patents should never have been granted.

So, with those patents, Verizon began suing — and it started with the lame duck in the VoIP space: Vonage. The company has been struggling for a variety of reasons, and a bunch of patent holders swept in to sue the firm that actually made VoIP a viable product in the market. Vonage came under massive pressure from shareholders to get rid of these lawsuits, so it settled rather than deal with a lengthy court room battle.

Verizon interpreted this as a validation of its patents and set off to find others to sue. Its next target was Cox Cable for its digital telephony solution. The plan was clear. After beating Cox, it would turn its legal guns on the big boys like Comcast and Time Warner. Except, it appears the courts have tossed a wrench into those plans by siding with Cox in pointing out that the company doesn’t violate Verizon’s patents. While Verizon will most likely appeal, this should be seen as a pretty big win for Time Warner Cable and Comcast, who may not even have to defend themselves against Verizon’s questionable patent claims at all.

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Companies: cox, verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Gets Smacked Down For Its VoIP Patent Suing Spree”

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8 Comments
Iggy says:

Verizon VoIP is older than you might think.

Verizon has been offering VoIP longer than most people know. They’ve been migrating their voice network to a VoIP network for years to lower THEIR costs, but they keep the access consistent so the subscriber doesn’t know. A lot of Verizon landline customers are running on a VoIP infrastructure and they don’t even know it. The strategy is to increase margin without doing anything that might lead the customer to expect a lower price.

The more recent VoIP-to-the-edge service that you refer to is a more recent add-on to Verizon’s VoIP core. And I agree, it’s weak. Verizon is one of the better operators at running an efficient and pretty bullet-proof network, but they’re pretty much out of touch with most of their customer base. They’re definitely a network for old people and other technical illiterates. Verizon FiOS broadband (NOT TV) is a bright spot, but that’s more of an effective network attribute than a consumer service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Verizon

I still have my copper while my neighbors do not. Do you want to guess who was the only one able to report the power outage last time?
And my dial pulse phones have continued to function well for over 40 years, as opposed to the average 4 years my neighbors get from their “modern” phones.
My $12 a month is looking pretty good, now, isn’t it?

Willton says:

Re: Patents after prior art?

Why doesn’t someone sue Verizon for invalidating the verizon patent in the first place? If there was technology in the prior art and verizon patent could not be granted and can be invalidated even on obviousness ground if not other grounds.

The better choice would be to file a request for reexamination with the USPTO. Reexams tend to be cheaper, easier to maintain, and (in theory) easier to win than invalidity suits. Plus, any concurrent or subsequent litigation based on those patents tends to be stayed until the reexam is over. It’s a very popular mechanism for companies looking to eliminate bad patents.

JCKatton (profile) says:

Why doesn’t someone sue Verizon for invalidating the verizon patent in the first place? If there was technology in the prior art and verizon voip patent could not be granted and can be invalidated even on obviousness ground if not other grounds. Ridiculous…I thought some small company in Canada had the first voip patent and they haven’t been successful in courts….obviously verizon has onstaff attorneys so why not….

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