Judge In Patent Case Puts Noose Around Vonage's Neck

from the competitive?-ha dept

A judge today barred Vonage from signing up new customers, following the ruling last month that it was infringing on some Verizon patents. According to ZDNet, the judge "said it was the only fair option that would minimize harm to both companies for now." It's hard to see how that's true, though. Clearly the harm on Vonage isn't being minimized, as an inability to sign up new customers will eventually kill the company. Once again, it's hard to see how patents are being used here to promote innovation. It's fairly obvious that Verizon has no interest in settling the case or licensing its patents, but rather it's an entrenched, slow-moving telco that simply wants to shut down its competition rather than compete in the marketplace. It's sad to see the judge allowing them to cripple Vonage in such a way, particularly after the Supreme Court said in the eBay-MercExchange case that injunctions aren't always the proper remedy, while appeals courts seem to have a better understanding that immediate injunctions aren't always the best solution because the harm a false injunction can do is significant and irreparable. Another story says the judge concluded that because the telecommunications market is so competitive, that there would be no impact on the public interest if the injunction were put in place -- but what happens when Verizon and other companies start suing other VoIP providers for patent infringement, seeking in some cases, heavy damages, but in others, simply to get some of that competition shut down? Update: And wouldn't you know it, but an appeals court hours later has granted a temporary stay of the injunction pending a hearing on Vonage's request for a permanent stay.

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  1. identicon
    LogicalThinker, 8 Apr 2007 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Re: Are you for real?

    The specific patent in reference, from my understanding, is the methodology behind encoding voice into digital data, breaking the data into packets, and transmitting it. Verizon has a specific software called VoiceWing that it developed years ago that utilizes the specific method, and they patented it - it seems that the technology that Vonage came up with is similar enough to Verizon's that it could be patent enfringment.

    Not sure that the noise is about verizon being evil, aside from the fact that it was a little company that actually made it in the world and is now a big company... in a year or two, if vonage survives, will it be evil too, as it grows? How about google... seems that the tides are already starting to turn on that one.

    Verizon asked for Vonage not to be stopped as a business, which was in their legal right to request in cases like this - instead they asked for it to stop adding new customers using the technology in question. Vonage can work on adapting their current technology to something that doesn't infringe on another companies intellectual property and continue as a business.

    Vonage is cutting in on Verizon's profits, allegedly using a system that is patented - why wouldn't Verizon try and stop them; that's how business works. You can't always be 'nice' to the competition, or your company and the hundreds/thousands of people who depend on you for their paychecks suffer.

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