by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 25th 2007 5:30pm
Vonage has already had enough trouble actually making their business profitable without having to worry about a barrage of patent lawsuits over highly questionable patents. But thanks to a patent system that approves a tremendous number of overly broad patents on obvious ideas, that's what you get. Already appealing a similar case from Verizon, a jury has found Vonage guilty of violating a bunch of Sprint patents. Juries will often find in favor of the patent holder, so this isn't much of a surprise. Vonage will most certainly appeal and the case is far from over. However, given how much effort the company needs to put into fighting these patents, the company may not be able to survive. The really sad thing is that the technology behind VoIP has almost nothing to do with Vonage's success. There were a ton of companies that had tried and failed to make popular VoIP plays before (and after) Vonage. What Vonage did was actually innovate: taking the basic idea that everyone knew about, and turning it into an offering that people wanted to buy. That's where Verizon, Sprint and other incumbents failed. For them to come back afterwards, and claim patent infringement is simply sour grapes. They were unable (and unwilling) to create the services that people wanted -- and now they want to shut down the company that actually did innovate -- and they're likely to succeed. That's not how the patent system is supposed to work.
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