I was a bit disappointed earlier this week to see that Google had settled a patent infringement lawsuit filed against it
by Judah Klausner. Klausner has been going around for years and years suing tons of companies, claiming that any sort of "visual voicemail" offering violates his patent. He's been quite successful getting big companies to settle
, which suggests he probably sets his demands at a point just slightly cheaper than it would cost to fight him. It's difficult to see why the concept is even remotely patentable. I remember talking to people about similar ideas for ages. All it basically does is apply an email interface to voicemail. That's not anything special, and hardly "nonobvious to those skilled in the art."
But companies keep settling -- and it's obvious now why Google did so. Just days after the settlement, Google has announced its new Google Voice offering
which (wouldn't you know it?) includes a visual voicemail component. These days, it seems like paying off patent hoarders even for ideas that plenty of folks came up with on their own, is just a "cost of doing business."