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Net2phone Sues Skype

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the if-you-can't-beat-em-sue-em dept.

187

robyannetta writes "Net2phone is suing Skype for patent infringement, arguing Skype violated patent 6,108,704 for 'the exchange of IP addresses between processing units in order to establish a direct communications link between the devices via the Internet.'"

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I'm Confused (5, Insightful)

Mikya (901578) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477975)

Isn't this what every computer does when it communicates with another?

I haven't RTFA... (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477982)

but I think it is a way for transmissions to get around NAT routers, perhaps even when both parties are using them and can only do outgoing connections. How it would work, I don't know.

Re:I'm Confused (5, Funny)

Thnikkaman (818752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477987)

And these computers form some sort of bond to each other... a network of sorts. Hey, what if this "network" went to computers beyond those that are in close proximity. An international network of sorts. An "Internet" for short. Consider it patented, kids. I'm gonna be rich.

Re:I'm Confused (4, Funny)

jimbolaya (526861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478282)

Damn you, Al Gore! Damn you!

Re:I'm Confused (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478315)

Hey Al, shouldn't you be outside looking for manbearpig? [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm Confused (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478353)

Furthermore they claim that in this 'internet' of computers there will be some sort of central database that holds IP addresses. So there must be some sort of key for each record in the database. Hey, what if we made that key a name! Then the IP addresses could change but computers could look up the name and get an IP address for direct communication!! A Dynamic Naming System! Dude, add me as a claimant, we're gonna march this one all the way to the bank

Re:I'm Confused (5, Informative)

Spezzer (101371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478029)

The patent infringement I believe is that clients register their IP addresses with a database so other clients can learn of their 'online status' and associated IP address in order to communicate.

This seems quite similar to the 'tracker' functionality of BitTorrent, which is essentially the same thing. I imagine there exists some sort of prior art from the 80s, but I can't think of any at the moment...

Re:I'm Confused (2, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478053)

I don't know about the 80s, but in 1999 Napster sure did this.

Re:I'm Confused (2, Insightful)

Darko8472 (966542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478114)

So, in other words they're also going to sue MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, AIM, and every other company that's developed an IM protocol? This seems a little ridiculous to me.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

Poltras (680608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478150)

Nope. This is a direct communication link. MSN, Y!, ICQ and AIM all use indirect communication, meaning that you are sending your messages to a central (obviously redundant and load balanced) server and they send it back to the right client. Even IRC uses this form of communication.

The patent is not justified as well. Many p2p clients did direct connection back in the 90s. Haven't read it and IANAL, so maybe there is some stuff in it that is outside what p2p networks did...

Anyone here who went through the task of reading and understanding it?

Re:I'm Confused (1)

woe.scott (888837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478250)

Maybe they don't for communication, but do they create a direct connection for file transfers? When sending to others on our LAN, the transfer is instantaneous, yet a smaller file takes longer to transfer to someone outside of the LAN.

Re:I'm Confused (2, Informative)

Grayraven (95321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478310)

Actually, ICQ supports direct connections. The server is only used if there's no way to send the message directly. Also, IRC DCC is direct.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478392)

But IRC is capable of direct communication by negotiating a transfer of IP address, is it not?

Presence Servers in VOIP, IM have Prior Art (5, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478222)

The summary of their patent lists two methods - the first one uses a presence server, and the second does something hokey with email. The claims in their patent list provide lots of gory detail, but are pretty difficult to read.

Many Instant Messaging protocols and the major standard VOIP protocols use presence servers to keep track of the users. When you want to call somebody, you check with the server to see if they're logged in (and optionally whether they're busy), get their IP address, and connect to them, or alternatively the server tells the destination client that you're going to call them or that you want them to call you. (There are other kinds of IM protocols that funnel all the messages through the central server, and some of the protocols support relay servers which let you connect directly within an administrative zone and go through the relay to get to other zones.)

H.323 [techabulary.com] , dating back to 1996, is the most common VOIP standard, and it uses a presence server to communicate the IP address (and also UDP port number) of the endpoints. SIP is a newer protocol that everybody _says_ they're going to support, and many vendors have their own proprietary protocols (e.g. Cisco Skinny) that either predate H.323 or provide additional functions that it doesn't use, but basically almost everybody out there supports H.323 at least as a fallback. SIP's proxy servers make it a much more flexible protocol for the long run.

At least based on the summary and an initial reading of about half the claims section, their first method doesn't have any fundamentally new concepts. It might implement some of the standard concepts in novel ways, and perhaps that's what they're arguing, but at the level of the summary there nothing new there. Their second method says in the summary that they use email, and unless they mean something other than SMTP, it's a pretty crude mechanism to use for automated processing, but saying "email your IP address to the human at the other end so he can read it and call you" doesn't strike me as either novel or non-obvious to someone skilled in the trade.

Re:I'm Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478126)

I imagine there exists some sort of prior art from the 80s, but I can't think of any at the moment...

IRC, 1988?

Re:I'm Confused (4, Informative)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478192)

Does that mean net2phone's patent covers instant messaging software, SIP, IRC, and every other communication method that involves availability state and connection information being stored on the server? Hell, even POTS sorta implements this by knowing how to route your phone number ("address") and track your state ("busy").

Meh. PTO, I'll make this easy for you. This patent has "obvious" and "prior art" written all over it.

FTFPatent:


A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet. A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a positive on-line status of the second processing unit, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.


ICQ? Jabber? SIP? Napster? Bittorrent?


A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, including a first IP address, from a first processing unit; (b) processing the E-mail signal through the Internet to deliver the E-mail signal to a second processing unit; and (c) transmitting a second IP address to the first processing unit for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.


Ok - I don't have time to read the whole patent, but WTF is an E-mail signal? Just the email address? So, the bright idea here is to use an obvious and invented wheel to resolve a peer's IP address, and to then send the e-mail address. fscking brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?

Damn. It doesn't take much to make a few million these days.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478265)

How the hell is this how things work?

A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a positive on-line status of the second processing unit, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.

No wonder you can patent anything. I've been programming forever and my eyes glazed over after two sentences. Is this actually what the patent office requires, or is it just written this way to make the examiner skip to breaking out the "they don't pay me enough for this, just take the patent" stamp part of the process? If it's the latter, those frigging monkeys have got to build a form letter that says, "Dear patent applicant: Please learn to talk like a fricking human. We don't have time for your BS. Thanks, The Patent Office. PS. De-frigging-nied." If they actually require that convoluted crap, then it's time we went down there with torches.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478399)

I believe (though IANAL and I could be wrong) it's a long-running practice that patents are written in this way. The best theory I've heard is that it's to make the patents unreadable to anyone but patent lawyers, in order to make sure anyone who wants to find out what the hell the patent is trying to say has to hire one...

Re:I'm Confused (1)

bufalo_1973 (898479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478564)

"the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part"

Re:I'm Confused (2, Insightful)

Algan (20532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478454)

ICQ? Jabber? SIP? Napster? Bittorrent?

None of these was there in '95, when they applied for this patent. The only thing I can think of that might constitute prior art would be IRC.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

elgaard (81259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478205)

Speakfreely http://www.speakfreely.org/ [speakfreely.org] is from 1991 and have Look Who's Listening servers.
(although I do not know if it had the servers right from the start)

Re:I'm Confused (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478228)

I doubt SpeakEasy had Look Who's Listening servers from the start. The earliest reference I can find in the development log [speakfreely.org] is 30 October 1995, though it's clear development of the feature began before this...

no it isn't (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478064)

This is basically a patent on STUN... this isn't good for VoIP if it is upheld.

Re:I'm Confused (2, Insightful)

chrispl (189217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478083)

It's true.

Don't worry, proof of prior art exists: the entire Internet.

This is the networking equivalent of patenting the fork.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478234)

It's true.

Don't worry, proof of prior art exists: the entire Internet.

This is the networking equivalent of patenting the fork.


I think you'll find they're thinking of the P2P nature of Skype to get around NAT/firewalls etc that will not allow a direct connection between sites - so they discover a third party and shuffle all comms via that third party also running skype. This is why Skype will always use bandwidth even if you're not in a call.

It's junk, but the defense will cost big $$$$ (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478398)

It's junk, but the defense will cost big $$$$.

I'm sure Skype can pay their lawyers...the real problem is when this system is applied to the little guys. The patent can be junk, but that won't stop them from losing their business, house, etc.

PS: Isn't this what DNS does - store IP addresses in a database so that computers can make direct connections.

It's DNS! (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478160)

As far as I can tell, the patent describes a system wherein a central system serves as a look-up system for establishing a P2P connection. It also checks to see if the other system is available. Essentially it boils down to a DNS system.

Yay for another irrelevant patent case (1)

thealsir (927362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477979)

As the first poster said. I'm hoping, though, that this gets thrown out the window faster than it came in, because I use skype a lot, and love it. It would suck to have such a great service hampered by an idiotic lawsuit.

and more... (5, Funny)

notlisted (645771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478004)

In other news, Net2phone sues Aunt Sue for the exchange of a phone number in order to establish a direct communications link between voice devices via the telecom network!

Come on.. how much more broken can our patent system get?

Re:Yay for another irrelevant patent case (1)

larytet (859336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478104)

use openwengo instead - open source

Obvious (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477985)

One way is you store your IP addresses on a server and go to the server when you want the IP address of another machine. Sounds like dynamic DNS or probably 1000 other similar systems for enabling PTP communication.

The other way is to send an email with your IP address in it. Posting your IP address on slashdot isn't covered though so I supose that way is still not patented.

It is now! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478086)

Thanks for the idea!

x. Profit!!!

Re:Obvious (1)

larytet (859336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478119)

i used XML [sourceforge.net] file on some HTTP server to exchange IPs. actually not IPs but IP subnets. after that peers run IP scan to find each other

Re:Obvious (1)

elyobelyob (844203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478132)

Cool idea, posting IP address here ... My IP is 127.0.0.1, give me a call ...

Re:Obvious (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478193)

Cool idea, posting IP address here ... My IP is 127.0.0.1, give me a call ...

cool, you're "My Pr0n" directory is 20 Gigs!!! let's ftp that off there then...

Re:Obvious (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478194)

My IP is 127.0.0.1, give me a call ...

I keep trying and it doesn't work. Must be a problem at your end :)

DCC? Direct IM? (4, Interesting)

ZxCv (6138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477989)

Any more examples of "the exchange of IP addresses between processing units in order to establish a direct communications link between the devices via the Internet.'"?

Maybe Net2phone will go after AOL and the guy who wrote mIRC, too.

Re:DCC? Direct IM? (1)

TheLogster (617383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478010)

Half the stuff I have written for work to enable client zero configuration, advertises it's IP address and the configuration server talks direct to the client, falls under this.

I guess you can patent common sense these days ...

Re:DCC? Direct IM? (2, Interesting)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478060)

Try any IP protocol out there... IP headers include the to/from address, so that the receiver of a message can turn around and reply. So RFC 791 is prior art for this.

Re:DCC? Direct IM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478162)

uh... what about NAT? And centralized server application protocols? And routing?

IP protocols? let's see: TCP doesn't advertize IPs, neither does ICMP and surely not UDP....?!

Come on guys... This patent is not justified, but you must at least understand a bit of the Internet Protocol to start a good discussion. Read a book.

Re:DCC? Direct IM? (1)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478209)

Maybe Net2phone will go after AOL and the guy who wrote mIRC, too.

I hate to seem nitpickish, but I guess you mean the guy who first came up with IRC [wikipedia.org] , predating the patent only by about a decade. Not to mention the developers of the predecessors of IRC, and the entire Internet protocol family.

Re:DCC? Direct IM? (1)

hometoast (114833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478492)

yes Khaled is rich now, from all 20 people who registered mIRC. I think I was #19.

Let me get this straight... (4, Interesting)

bytesmythe (58644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477990)

They got a patent on dynamic routing tables? Applications have been saving databases of IP addresses for ages. Technically, any two devices that create an IP connection do this, since they save each other's IP addresses in a data structure that describes the connection parameters.

Un-freakin'-believable.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

jackjeff (955699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478000)

Maybe they should sue CISCO? Ah no... too big of a fish. :)

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478085)

> Maybe they should sue CISCO? Ah no... too big of a fish. :)

Yeah, go after someone easy first, set a precedent, and THEN go after Cisco...

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478129)

Someone easy like eBay/Skype?

Proir art- ICQ (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477997)

From the summary, ICQ seems like a perfect example of prior art- the central ICQ server farm had a list of hosts in a database, and their online status. When you sent a message to them, it get their IP and sent it on to you so you could create a direct connection.

Re:Proir art- ICQ (2, Informative)

Spezzer (101371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478050)

ICQ was created in 1996, and this patent was *filed* in 1995 and granted in 2000. Does this mean ICQ is still prior art?

Basically, does prior art have to be prior to the filing or the granting?

Re:Proir art- ICQ (2, Informative)

AtrN (87501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478168)

The date of filing is the important thing wrt. establishing the "priority" of the patent.

Re:Proir art- ICQ (1)

tao (10867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478356)

If I know US patent law well enough, it's not only necessary that the prior art is prior to the date of filing, but also that it's *significantly* prior to that date (as in 1 year or more), to make sure that the patent filers have had a decent chance of spotting that there was prior art.

But, I'm not a lawyer, especially not an "IPR"-lawyer.

Interesting, but... (1)

kdougherty (772195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15477998)

Won't this be a losing battle? This will be a cat and mouse fight... I guess they better sue everyone who uses the internet then, last time I checked the internet didn't conform to patent laws... otherwise everytime I wanted to make a direct connection to lets say... my FTP server... I'm breakings grounds for a lawsuit. What's next... will Microsoft try and patent the double-click? Oh, wait....

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478100)

Hey c'mon now, they're not [uspto.gov] that greedy.

Asterisk is next. (1)

ABeowulfCluster (854634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478013)

Asterisk also supports the IP to IP voice over IP, so why can't the open source project get sued as well.

Re:Asterisk is next. (1)

draxbear (735156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478039)

It's hard to go after Asterisk for cash I suspect...at least compared to such a juicy plum as Skype + Ebay.

On the other hand, given the size of Skype + Ebay hopefully they have enough funding to kick nine colours of shit outta Net2phone and get this fscking "patent" overturned. :)

surely many other system employ such an obvious... (3, Insightful)

Falcon040 (915278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478014)

Thats obvious, A 'middle man' so to speak bringing two partners together, i.e. giving the phone numbers of each other to each other. Its ever so simple.

Hasn't ICQ been using this too? All communication doesn't go through a central server, surely not! And I really doubt ICQ would have been the first!

I can't believe how patents are being used to destroy competition and innovation. At this rate, those countries heavily restricted by patents are going to fall competitively behind those countries who compete to innovate and improve quality and efficiency.

It really is a pity that software patents continue to stifle innovation and competition.

More freedom and liberalisation is needed to create wealth: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=185961&cid=153 49064 [slashdot.org] Instead of using restrictive patents to keep others from competing in an area.

The US alreasy became number one in software in the past. They did this because they didn't have software patents on simple obvious ideas, but they did have copyright to protect people's hard work. Now in the US, companies are employing patents to keep out competition, so the ultimate result will be technology and the high tech sector moving abroad. What is needed is the opposite of patents and restrictions on what you can invent - what is needed is liberalisation with the removal of software patents and removal of the patenting of concepts, numbers, ideas and discoveries.

Re:surely many other system employ such an obvious (0, Flamebait)

Arker (91948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478051)

At this rate, those countries heavily restricted by patents are going to fall competitively behind those countries who compete to innovate and improve quality and efficiency.

Which is exactly why the patent lawyers took over the one country that outspends everyone else on military first. That it has a president that thinks things like 'national sovereignty' are just outmoded nonsense, and believes himself Emperor of the World, is very helpful.

You see, the idea is to make sure there AREN'T any nations left that aren't restricted like this. That way there's no competition.

Re:surely many other system employ such an obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478075)

Come on, everyone who understands economics knows that by creating a market for ideas, we make it worthwhile to invest in developing new ideas, and thus increase innovation! If you don't support patents, you are against innovation!

i'm switching! (3, Funny)

necromcr (836137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478016)

is morse code patented and what baud rates can you achieve?

Re:i'm switching! (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478266)

It is, but the patent has already expired! Yay!

It's brilliant! (5, Funny)

Barraketh (630764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478022)

Now, as everyone has pointed out, just about anything on the internet will qualify as prior art. Seriously - pick any random common service that runs over the internet, and it's prior art. However, people are missing the deep point behind this move:

1) Borrow Skype stock. Sell it.
2) Sue Skype. Skype stock goes down
3) Buy Skype stock at low price (as much as you can). Return the stock you borrowed, keep the rest.
4) Get bitchslapped in court. Skype stock goes up.
5) Sell Skype stock at high price.
6) Profit!!

Notice the lack of the ??? step... this is foolproof. Hell, I should go sue someone for something - it doesn't even matter what, the way the market works all you need is a little publicity for your lawsuit, and you're golden!

Re:It's brilliant! (3, Interesting)

larytet (859336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478130)

Skype is not a public company. eBay is, but the stock performs so-so for some time already

Re:It's brilliant! (5, Funny)

Barraketh (630764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478157)

Who the hell are you, and what are you doing on slashdot? Come on - to know stuff like this, I would have had to do some sort of research. Me, I'm beyond that! Hell, I didn't even read the article, but look at me posting... I'm unstoppable!

On a slightly unrelated topic, stop moderating my parent post as funny! It's insightful! Insightful goddamit! Jeez people - I give you gold...

Re:It's brilliant! (1)

larytet (859336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478174)

i did not moderate your post - i never do this. actually i have no idea how to do this. regarding research - i can very well and proffessionaly advise investors

anyway nothing bad happened, this is just a post, one among many have a nice day

Re:It's brilliant! (3, Informative)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478154)

What you are talking about (unknowingly) is called volatility trading. You can basically do this without borrowing any stock and with much less capital; simply execute this strategy with options (you will need to buy a combination of calls and puts and carefully chosen strikes for maximum leverage, but that's beyond the point of this post.).

FUD is a big volatility driver in the market.

Re:It's brilliant! (1)

larytet (859336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478180)

yes, selling volatility is an interesting approach to the problem, straightforward shorting is not bad too

Re:It's brilliant! (1)

Aquila Deus (798176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478186)

Uhh, why you need to borrow the stock in the first place??

Re:It's brilliant! (2, Interesting)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478261)

Extra profit, no investment. Borrow 100 shares for $100 each, sell them for $100, get $10k. Sue, buy 100 shares for $50, spending $5k, return them, keep the other $5k - or invest them in another 100 shares which you'll sell for $200/piece after the court battle, resulting in $25k profit with zero up-front investment instead of $15k profit from $5k investment needed if you skip step one. Plus additional panic on the market resulting from mass sale of the shares will result in the shares reaching even lower price in step 3.

Re:It's brilliant! (0, Troll)

inflamez (885475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478191)

Hey Mods. Just because he compiled a list with the last point beeing "Profit" it's not automatically funny.

Re:It's brilliant! (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478237)

Yep. It's insightful.

Patent what every telco switch does... (1)

_eb0la_reston_ (930919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478023)

Interesting patent. It's just describes what a (IP) telephony switch does.
Seems funny they're just suing Skype (direct competitor), but not MSN.

BTW: Their algorithm looks very similar to a P2P tracker (like bittorrent) without the peers telling anything about how much datablocks they have/want.

Obviousness (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478026)

Can anyone think of a good way for two Skype clients to establish a P2P connection that would not violate this patent?

If not, then the method described in this patent must be pretty obvious, and therefore not patentable...

Re:Obviousness (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478087)

I don't think Skype has to worry about this one. The patent was filed in 2000, and CuCme was using reflectors that did exactly that back in 96 (or was it 98?). Basically, there is so much prior art for that patent that the lawsuite will probably be tossed.

Re:Obviousness (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478239)

The patent was *granted* in 2000; the date of filing is September 25, 1995.

Isn't this what SIP (SDP) does (2, Insightful)

jedi_pj (184233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478033)

When I setup a SIP call, the RTP session is setup between the endpoints using the IP address of the end points passed in teh SIP messages.

More like STUN (5, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478036)

This sounds more like STUN than like DNs really.

Normally, two computers that are both nated have no way of directly contacting eachother.

STUN is a method by which they still can, by getting information on ip and portnumber for the other side from a third source. (in this case the Skype-network)

If we both know, that we're listening for UDP packets on :33115 and you on :22056 then we can communicate, trough double NAT if need be by both sending a single packet to the other. This will cause the NAT-routers to set up mappings, so that any response packets coming from the other side will get trough.

Kinda sorta. For a more precise explanation see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STUN [wikipedia.org]

I wonder how the patent filing-date compares to the earlier draft-versions of the RFC...

Last resort (2, Insightful)

loqi (754476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478044)

Does this strike anyone else as a last ditch kind of reaction? Net2phone is quite possibly looking at Skype as their doom. Why not fire off a salvo from the patent chest, when you've got nothing to lose? Maybe the patent cold war will finally boil over and more people will realize how ridiculous the situation is! Maybe pigs will fly! Yes!

When pigs fly (1)

bobamu (943639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478329)

someone will be extracting patent licence fees.

OMG!!! (1, Redundant)

p!ssa (660270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478061)

They stole Al Gores patent, prior art bishes Gore invented it!!!

My considered reaction to this patent (2, Funny)

bcmm (768152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478062)

LOL.

If I got this patent right, it means... (2, Interesting)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478066)

comm link between two devices initiating PTP link by email from sender to middle-tier switch/server to query the route to the final destination which will respond with on/off status to middle-tier switch/server and back to original sender.

I don't think, the summary does the justice, however broad none the less. I'm not even sure if Skype works this way. But I think, the key word here is "E-Mail". I also think, it's safe to say, since it's using "E-Mail", there is no original invention here. It's just using whatever is already invented. So what's so patentable about this?

blah, it's late... I might be totally wrong on this.

Worse they have a patent on networking computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478078)

In a patent, the only legal part that really matters is the claims and this patent starts of by claming its a patent of computers communicting over a network.

As someone working on adjusting a patent, the reviewer here was an IDIOT.. he granted a patent for something invented over 35 years ago!

From the Patent: (5, Informative)

dlichterman (868464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478102)

Abstract
A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet. A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a positive on-line status of the second processing unit, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet. A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, including a first IP address, from a first processing unit; (b) processing the E-mail signal through the Internet to deliver the E-mail signal to a second processing unit; and (c) transmitting a second IP address to the first processing unit for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.

So......they Patented the internet????? http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fs rchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,108,704.PN.&OS=PN/6,1 08,704&RS=PN/6,108,704 [uspto.gov]

Re:From the Patent: (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478226)

No. DNS doesn't hold your online status.

Prior art... (1)

Schapsmann (969126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478148)

... in early FTP protocol RFCs, the passive mode is described by sending an address/port to the client... hey net2phone! Sue the FTP RFC redactors first, or die trying /o\

Peace not war? (3, Insightful)

PsyCHZZZ (931449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478167)

can't we all live happily together and stop sue-ing each other... this is sad.

I think you are reading it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478172)

you are all not reading it. yes, its a basis for networking, but when the word "communications" is used in IT, its implying voice devices or some form of voice communication device.

so in reality, they are suing because skype uses their patent of using IP to connect two comms devices so they make talk.

in other words, the fact that they are using TCP/IP to connect phone conversations rather than say SIP

Possible solution. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478176)

You know what might make frivolous patent suites like this less common? If, in the event of a court loss, the patent holder and the patent holder's lawyers had their hands hacked off and impaled on spikes lining the roof of the court.

It's harsh, but by God you'd think twice.

Net2Phone just declared itself dead (1)

moofmonkey (741160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478177)

Its the standard SCO move - sue when your business is going down the pan. Its an admission of defeat in the competitive sense. Dump Net2Phone stock now.

What about DCC ? (2, Informative)

Vapula (14703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478189)

During IRC communications, you could ask for a DCC (DCC SEND, DCC CHAT) which is Direct Client to Client (P2P). DCC Requests include the IP address and the port to be used to establish the communication, either to send a file or to use a direct chat (without using the IRC server anymore)

System working as intended (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478210)

It's ok, Skype can just cross-license their patent for powering said processing units with a stream of moving electrons and they can both go along their merry way.

No-case? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478215)

Of course acquiring IP addresses from a database is standard DNS, so the idea can't be patented, and isn't. But specific methods to achieve the above are patentable and, say, some sophisticated p2p connection creation method would be.

The patent in question is about using one (arbitrary) protocol to obtain access to a database server which holds online status and IP of the target. That's pretty much what ICQ and followers do, and with some stretch, IRC too. Patentable - probably not. Then still, if patented, Skype would infringe. But then we come to the fun, second part:
A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, including a first IP address, from a first processing unit; (b) processing the E-mail signal through the Internet to deliver the E-mail signal to a second processing unit;


Does Skype use SMTP to transfer data? Does it send e-mail messages? AFAIK it estabilishes streams. Plonk.

Prior art? FTP! (1)

midom (535130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478219)

FTP also has protocol which tells about endpoints, that may differ....

Counter sue (3, Insightful)

ryanduff (948159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478223)

Skype should counter sue Net2Phone for wasting their time and money. Seriously though, if the legal system wasn't so f'd up in this country, nobody would be able to get away with suing for everything and anything just on a whim. If lawyers weren't so money hungry, they wouldn't approach a company and tell them they have a potential law suit just so they themselves can make money. If they can get you to go to court, they'll make money off you either way, regardless of who wins.

Looking for an easy settlement? (1)

Burning Plastic (153446) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478264)

Sounds like they're just after some cash from a quick settlement... They probably know thier patent is crap but if they can get some cash out of skype then it makes this process worthwhile...

Skype deserves trouble, but perchance not this (1)

mjrauhal (144713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478269)

Skype, what with their continuing attempt to monopolize the (consumer) VOIP market on a proprietary protocol, deserves some shit to happen, but I generally applaud software patent suits only when they're targeted at a pro-swpat lobbyist or someone just misusing the system like hell. I'm not sure Skype/E-Bay qualify at this point, so, bummer. Still, the targeting could be worse, too.

Piece O' the Pie (1)

imutau (979989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478271)

I guess they got wind that Skype was partnering up with Dell and wanted some of that greenback action.

What? (1)

ST47 (965252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478381)

Isn't that what my computer did when it asked for this website? And what, oh just every internet program does to talk to other programs?

SIP? (1)

mikeborella (118715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15478497)

Looks like RFC 3261 on SIP could be relevant prior art. Also, FTP has been exchanging IP addresses between devices for some time in a slightly different context. Also it depends on how liberally one can interpret "point-to-point" protocol" Is it just PPP or broader than that.

Regardless, I think the asserter of this patent has a long road ahead.

Not good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478519)

I'm making a peer-to-peer multiplayer game, and for convenience, players connect to each other with help from a master server. This master server also does the necessary UDP hole punching should both players be behind a NAT.

Now, the patent itself seems to be a description of the UDP hole punching process. Does this mean that I should be removing this feature (thus causing hell for users), or simply pray I don't get sued? Since I don't reside in the USA, how would such a patent affect me? Will I be open to litigation if people in the States buy the game?

It'll disappear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15478535)

Seems like net2phone might want a bit of free publicity. Maybe their sales targets aren't being met for this year?
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