by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 25th 2007 8:31pm
Just a couple weeks ago, we noted that Vonage appeared to be settling all its patent disputes -- with the one exception being Verizon. Well, you can cross that one off the list as well, as Vonage is paying $120 million to Verizon to settle its patent dispute. This is something of a joke. There's been plenty of prior art discovered on Verizon's patents -- and it was quite clear that Vonage didn't take this idea from Verizon at all. In fact, Vonage had been the innovator. The first company that was able to take all of these ideas and package them up in a way that customers actually wanted. Verizon, on the other hand, came to market well after Vonage was already gobbling up marketshare and did a terrible job marketing its product, which failed to generate much interest. So, after losing in the marketplace, Verizon simply sued the company that did a better job. That's not the sort of activity the patent system is designed to encourage. However, Vonage so far had trouble proving its case in court, and it's become clear that Vonage's investors wanted the lawsuits off the decks (perhaps to facilitate a sale), so Vonage is settling as fast as it can. In fact, as soon as news broke that this lawsuit was settled, the stock popped -- so you could say that investors are helping to pay the settlement. Of course, when you're just handing out money for bad patents like that, it should come as little surprise that others are rushing to join the party. Witness AT&T's decision to sue Vonage for patent infringement just last week. Anyone else have a vague, overly broad and obvious patent on VoIP that can be used to squeeze some free money out of Vonage? Now's the time...
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