[asterisk-users] Verizon-Vonage Lawsuit

Jay Milk 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.

Fun world.

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