by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 6th 2007 4:01pm
Already facing possible shutdown and huge fines from Verizon over some VoIP patents, Vonage is apparently facing a similar threat from Sprint as well. The case was filed nearly two years ago, but it finally is underway, with Sprint making the ridiculous claim that without Sprint's patents, Vonage wouldn't exist. We've already gone through this with Verizon, but there's a ton of prior art on VoIP offerings -- and almost all of these patents seem overly broad and quite speculative. Lots of different folks all figured out how VoIP could work at about the same time (suggesting that the concept was the natural progression of the technology, which isn't something that's supposed to receive patent protection). Vonage's real innovation was in figuring out how to package and market the service -- something that neither Sprint nor Verizon did. Both companies are now simply trying to shut down a rival who out-innovated them in the market. That's not what the patent system is designed to do, and it's a blatant abuse of the patent system by both telcos to claim that Vonage somehow "stole" anything from them.
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