[asterisk-users] Verizon-Vonage Lawsuit
ast-users at skimmilk.net
Fri Apr 6 23:02:32 MST 2007
J. Oquendo wrote:
> Stepping back into reality for a moment, emotions aside, I side with
> the law if Vonage infringed on VZ's patent. Don't misconstrue what
> I typed, re-read it clearly. If you created something, patented it,
> and someone else used it without permission or compensation, if you
> can honestly tell this list you would sit back while said person or
> company made millions and do nothing, you would be lying to youself.
> Other companies in the industry used VZ's patents under licensing
> without incident so why couldn't Vonage. This isn't David versus
> Goliath here in fact Vonage tried to get things in order with
> Verizon AFTER the fact. So kudos to the judge in this case.
> Personally I don't like Verizon, and I'm glad I deal with them
> on a minimal level nowdays. However, the law is the law.
This sounds like you really don't know what these legal proceedings are
about. I googled this a little a week or two ago, when it appeared on
engadget of all places. It appears that VZ sued Vonage for infringement
of seven patents, including three for billing methods. IIRC, the
billing issues were thrown out in a first round, I assume, because it's
one of those "how else you're gonna bill customers?" deals.
The one bit that did keep coming up in all my reading was that VZ
apparently patented some sort of mechanism to interconnect a packet
network (VOIP) to a circuit switched network (PSTN). They seemed to
attempt to gain an injunction barring Vonage from using this technology
or method, essentially cutting off Vonage's customers from the PSTN, and
rendering Vonage service useless.
Judging by how surprisingly little information was available on this,
the conclusion would be that Verizon owns some patent for the VOIP/PSTN
interface -- that, in turn, would mean that all digital PBX systems
currently in operation infringe on this patent in some manner. (Again,
this is interpolated from the small amount of information I found when
searching two weeks ago).
If Verizon's patent claim is indeed so broad as to prevent Vonage's PSTN
interconnect, then Verizon would still have to show that the patent is
non-obvious and a truly new invention (this may be difficult, because
packet-based and circuit switched networks have been around for longer
than Verizon has, and there is an obvious way of connecting those two);
Verizon would also have to show that they had sufficient interest to
develop the patent (similar to the Cisco/Apple controversy over the
iPhone trademark). That latter part is hindered by the fact that
Verizon didn't start going after Vonage until they had allegedly lost
over a million customers to Vonage -- it appears a reciprocal action to
protect VZ's business interests and not their IP.
That last point could be quite a big one against VZ -- Vonage is gaining
customers not because they stole Verizon's doubtful IP, but because they
offer a better deal. In my area, Vonage is cheaper than a Verizon
dialtone alone -- and I'd still pay for each outgoing call if I had
That said, this is going to be interesting to watch for all us asterisk
users. If Vonage loses this one, VZ is going to go after the next VOIP
provider... and sooner or later, anti-trust regulation will kick in.
More information about the asterisk-users