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Vonage Loses VoIP Case With Verizon

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the time-to-pony-up dept.

The Courts 150

cdrudge writes "A federal jury on Thursday said Vonage Holdings Corp. violated 3 of 5 patents of Verizon Communications Inc. and ordered the upstart Internet-phone company to pay $58m in damages as well as 5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer. Verizon said it would seek an injunction to block Vonage from using its patented technology. The jury did reject Verizon's claim of $200m in damages and that Vonage deliberately violated Verizon's patents. As you might expect, Vonage said it would appeal the decision and seek a stay if an injunction is granted. Judge Claude Hilton set a hearing for March 23 on whether to grant an injunction."

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Hmmm... (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283246)

Guess I'll hold off on switching to Vonage for a little bit longer...

Re:Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283268)

I was actually thinking in the opposite direction - I might just get rid of my Verizon DSL to vote with my dollars. The cable company offers Cable/Internet/Phone for $99. I have Vonage currently, and I like it a lot. I hope this doesn't kill them off.

Re:Hmmm... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283372)

I've had Vonage since almost the very start of their service and it has been awesome. I pay 17 bucks a month and I have never come close to using all of my time, whereas I used to pay around 50 bucks a month at least when I used a standard landline. I can call anywhere in the US at anytime of day and not have to worry about the charges.

Vonage has completely liberated my phone usage.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283406)

Using all of your time?!

It should be unlimited since they don't provide the bandwidth. All the VOIP services I've used have been for a flat fee, worked great and were extremely reliable. If they went under, I'd go with Vonage. However, Vonage would be my "last resort". They're big. Not great. They're just big. I'll take $20 for unlimited everything plus all the tricked out features over $30 with Vonage, plus whatever they want for extras.

I don't trust the bandwidth providers to not screw with your packets and performance, though. Currently, I don't use VOIP but that's only because I have a cell phone and paying for two seemed kind of silly.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Informative)

ximenes (10) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283454)

Vonage has two plans, unlimited is $25 and 500 minutes is $14. The instant they introduced the 500 minute plan I switched down to it. This includes all of the services (voicemail in particular) that you pay through the nose for with a real phone company.

I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Funny)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283738)

I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.

Spoken like a true /.er ;)

20 whole minutes on the phone per day? Unthinkable, why would the guy I order pizza from need to talk to me anywhere near that much?

And really, who else do we call?

Re:Hmmm... (4, Informative)

pdhenry (671887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283982)

1) incoming calls don't come out the the 500 bucket.
2) calls to toll free numbers don't come out of the 500 bucket.
3) calls to Vonage customers don't come out of the 500 bucket.

It's harder to burn through 500 Vonage minutes than one would think.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284028)

We do it fairly regularly, but we've never used enough to go over the $24.99/month cost even once, let alone regularly (to justify switching to the unlimited plan). Our phone bill is usually in the $19 a month range, and I admit that we don't really worry about where we're at, minutes-wise.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285308)

My February Vonage invoice:

In-Plan Minutes used: 3121
In-Plan Minutes remaining: Unlimited
Regional Minutes Used: 0
Free In-Network Minutes used: 16
Free In-Account Minutes used: 0
Free Minutes used: 42

It's not hard at all...

Re:Hmmm... (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285386)

We do domestic calls on the cell phone and use our $15/month Vonage for international calls to and from our family in UK (4 cents/min), South Africa (9 cents/min) and Mexico (a hefty 12 cents/min). Even with the international calls we only hit ~$25/month so no point switching to the unlimted package. We probably could find VOIP cheaper, but I had it for a couple of years, never had to call customer service it works perfectly fine (except for the couple of times our Comcast internet went down) and simply spliced it directly into the house phone circuit so it's available on all the house phones. The family have a fixed line to call us without us worrying about cell phone issues.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283992)

You... you don't use the Intarweb to order pizza? And you call yourself a /.er! ;-)

Seriously, I haven't talked to a pizza person on the phone in YEARS. Yes, it does mean that I can only order from the "Big 2" (Papa Johns & Pizza Hut - I don't touch Dominos due to some scary corporate ideals they have), but it also means that I don't have to deal at ALL with the minimum-wage-making till-monkey on the other end of the line who will screw up my order 95% of the time. This way, what I want is there in WRITING, plain as day.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Saikik (1018772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284628)

Lies, everyone I know orders pizza off teh interweb... easy savings through coupons.

Easy! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285220)

Run a dial-up modem over it.

Hmmm...Momma's boy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285240)

"And really, who else do we call?"

Mom.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285486)

Funny comment, but a serious response. I think a pretty high percentage of /.ers (actually, a pretty high percentage of Americans, Europeans, etc.) have switched their primary phone to their mobile. These days most standard plans in the US are basically all you can use.

Re: 500 minutes (2, Insightful)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283784)

>> I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.

Hmm, so you don't have teenage daughters, then?

(Sorry, this is Slashdot. Slashdotter's are not supposed to have girlfriends or wives, therefore children [at least living with them] are relatively unlikly. Silly me)

Re:Hmmm... (1)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283882)

I use over 500 minutes and it actually still works out quite well with their rates. I also make a lot of calls to Canada so I save big time there. But you need to use over 750 to go over $25 (which I've never gone over) so even if you use over 500 minutes it can still pay to be on that plan.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

crasher35 (787091) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284074)

I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.


I used to say the same thing. Then I got a boyfriend.

500 minutes (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284368)

"I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month."

You obviously don't have a wife and a teenage daughter.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283826)

Currently, I don't use VOIP but that's only because I have a cell phone and paying for two seemed kind of silly.
I hear a lot of people say to just use a cell phone as their main line, and I've got a cell phone with 1400 minutes a month shared between my wife and I, but what do you give out as your "home phone number" when people ask for it if you're married? Plus I can only have one cell phone extension per number so I'd have to remember to carry around my cell phone when I go upstairs or I'll miss a call by the time I run downstairs. Granted, we probably only use our Vonage line about 50 minutes a month or so, but having a shared common phone number for people to reach *both* of us is why we have it.

Re:Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285040)

It clearly doesn't work for everyone.

But, why should you and your wife necessarily have the same number?

And you've presented an interesting opportunity for a new kind of device. It could be a home docking-station/wireless base for a cell phone. You plug it in and any incoming calls would automatically be handled through a cordless phone system. You can then put your cordless phones wherever you want them. Maybe it could take multiple phones and would use a different ring per phone. If it were really smart, it would allow the system to work with multiple phones at a time. So, your cellphone rings and you take it on the wireless extension in the bedroom. Your wife's phone rings too and she takes it on the living room's wireless extension. That was your daughter calling your wife, so when your call is done, you patch into her call so you can talk to your daughter too.

Does this thing already exist?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285510)

I've seen them advertised several times. They aren't exactly what you're talking about, but they are in the ballpark. Not sure how well they actually work. I would expect this to become a lot more feasible now with bluetooth phones. You'd just need to plug your phone into a charger sitting near the "base" (or the base itself).

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283824)

I have no desire to ever get a VOIP service since I think landlines are antiquated. Nonetheless, this might steer me away from getting Verizon's fiber optic service installed in the house I'm about to buy. I was going to get their 10mbps plan for $40/mo, an Akimbo IPTV subscription for $10 and an inexpensive PC with Windows Media Center and just thumb my nose at getting a cable modem and cable TV. Now, I might just stick with cable service in the new place.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Ayal.Rosenthal (1070472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285470)

It won't kill them off, but now we know where the money that Vonage raised in its IPO is going..... (the correct answer is not "back to the customer shareholders who lost 50% on their investment") - Ayal Rosenthal

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283368)

I really don't know why anyone would go with Vonage to begin with. There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

Vonage is to VOIP what Gateway is to the computer market.

I see this as a case of evil versus evil.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283756)

Vonage is ok in terms of quality and rates. Only problem I had was my cable modem would "mysteriously" lose sync during the middle of any long calls. (no it wasn't overheating). I can't blame Vonage for that since it's my ISP which sucked. Oddly enough my ISP (Rogers) offers a competing [more expensive] VoIP service which doesn't offer the same features as Vonage (like free long distance).

Geez, I wonder ... hmm ...

Fortunately, I rarely call anyone [yeah, being a loner has its advantages]. And once I quit AMD I had no needs to call into the USA all the time (multiple hour long teleconference calls a week to various 408 and 512 numbers == expensive with POTS).

Tom

Re:Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283794)

I really don't know why anyone would go with Vonage to begin with. There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

Like who? I pay about $30 a month for the unlimited service after taxes and charges and I get reliable service. How much more could I ask for? When I pick up the phone I want to hear a dial tone not "Your $6.95/month VOIP Provider is not available, try again later" when I'm going to make a call.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284084)

I've been using http://galaxyvoice.com/ [galaxyvoice.com] - $0/month plus $0.023/minute is pretty damn good, especially with a reliability level of "it's always just worked".

Re:Hmmm... (4, Informative)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285078)

I'm paying a comparable amount through Vitelity [vitelity.net] and I've been quite happy with the service. $1.49/mo. for each DID, 1.39 cents/min/channel outbound, and 1.1 cents/min/channel inbound. It's very much an ala carte service - you can order as many DIDs as you want for a single account, and if you want CNAM lookups (caller ID), you pay for them on a per-use basis (something like 2 cents/lookup IIRC). Most importantly for me, they actively support and welcome customers running their own PBX boxes (Asterisk , etc.) and they will let you have as many simultaneously active calls as your bandwidth will support.

I've had no problems with the service, and they were very helpful in porting my previous Vonage number over. They do offer a few other plans, but the ala carte offering worked best for me.

Works great out of the country too. (1)

unity (1740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284272)

Agreed, I have been VERY satisfied with my vonage. I've had it for 2.5 years. I moved out of the US to a small caribbean island last year. I brought my Vonage modem with me when I moved. It works perfect from here. I have two vonage lines running over my business cable line. I kept the same numbers I had when I lived in the US. So my US family members and in-laws and Customers can make a local call and get me 3000 miles away. Vonage == money well spent.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

pegr (46683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284474)

There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

 
And they're not getting sued! Bonus!

Re:Hmmm... (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285530)

Strangely enough, the first moderation on my comment was "Overrated". Why is that even an option for a comment that hasn't even been "rated" yet? Then it looks like some kind soul came along with an "Underrated" to fix it.

Woohoo! (4, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283254)

Another win for the little guy! It's always nice when the system works.

The working system (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283286)

Create debt. Maintain debt. Keep people in debt. Work them until they die of debt.

How does this judgement affect the greater system?

Re:The working system (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283330)

Well, you see, this one group of rich guys tried to screw over this other group of rich guys, but the second group of rich guys was like, "Oh no you didn't!" and the first group was like "What're you gonna do about it!" and then the jury said "We find in favor of the rich guys!"

So you see, EVERYTHING is different now. Duh.

The rich guys (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283418)

I don't often see these things as groups of rich guys trying to screw each other over. Usually these things are a sign of rich guys meeting on the golf course and saying,"You know, if we make it look like we're at each other's throats, then we could slowly and carefully raise the monthly rates on the millions of investing idiots who take the news at face value every morning."

Which group of rich guys did this benefit? Even rich guys stratify. Usually the stratification of rich guys gives insight into upcoming political posturing. Which politicians now find themselves in the group of rich guys with more money as a result of this ruling? Is this ruling balanced by any other recent rulings which might have moved money in a different direction?

Re:The working system (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283390)

It's worse than that, the very money you use is based upon you being in debt.

Re:The working system (3, Funny)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283678)

Well, if you do it right, it's based on your neighbour's debt.

Works for me - haven't had to pay for bandwidth in over a year ;-)

Re:Woohoo! (2)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283328)

Sorry, when did our justice system become about helping the little guy? Even little guys can do Bad Things last time I checked.

Re:Woohoo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284022)

How is this a score for the little guy? Verizon is HUGE, Vonage is the little guy. And also, Verizon blows goats, so, uh, yeah...

Re:Woohoo! (1)

rodgster (671476) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284396)

I just don't understand. Maybe I need to read the patents and look @ the filing dates

Isn't there prior art? I remember using Intel Internet Phone back in 1996. It was VOIP but it used email addresses or IP addresses to connect and didn't go to landlines phone handsets, but really isn't it obviously the next step, that and use phone numbers instead if IPs (I used IPs). And it was free.

Patents (1)

iswm (727826) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283308)

"Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing," said John Thorne, Verizon deputy general counsel, in a statement. Yeah, for whatever company holds the patents. Using this same logic, wouldn't it help everyone a whole lot more if whatever technologies that are patented were allowed to be used by anyone? I hate patents.

Patenting whine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284128)

"Yeah, for whatever company holds the patents."

Nice to know schools are teaching something.

"Using this same logic, wouldn't it help everyone a whole lot more if whatever technologies that are patented were allowed to be used by anyone?"

No [theautochannel.com]

"I hate patents."

To borrow a famous slashphrase. Those who can, don't. Those who can't do.

Re:Patenting whine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285044)

That is not a software idea patent. They are completely and totally different things, and have completely and totally different results.

For once... (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283310)

I'm hopeing a company(Vonage) dropped alot of cash in political coffers. Not that I'm a care about that particular company, but this might be big enough to be the catalyst for serious patent reform that we so need.

What Are The Verizon 'Patents' In Question? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283332)

I have searched around and can't find the patent numbers that Verizon is claiming Vonage is violating. Anyone have a link to them or their numbers?

What a sickening outcome - even more sickening is it is just another in an endless farcical parade of patent lawsuits that show no sign of stopping.

Google patent search is your friend (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283980)

Maybe some of these [google.com] ?

Idiot journalist (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283360)

"Vonage was told to pay 5.5% in royalties each month for each customer."

Wow, 5.5% for each customer you say? With 2.2 million customers that works out to 12100000% per month! Seems a little harsh if you ask me!

Re:Idiot journalist (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284134)

Mod parent up!

What patents ? (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283366)

How can vonage claim patents on connecting things to the phone network ? Of course the TFA might be oversimplifying a bit.

Re:What patents ? (5, Informative)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283510)

"The infringed patents cover a method for translating calls between an Internet network and the standard telephone network, call-waiting features and wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, handsets. Vonage was cleared of infringing two patents related to billing systems designed to prevent fraud."

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&si d=anDrCRkj4nn0&refer=home [bloomberg.com]

Re:What patents ? (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283622)

Great ! they patented the gateway ????

This is stoooooooooopid.

VOIP protocols are all published standards. Telco connections are all done to published standards. Yet if you do the two as part of the same system, then you have to pay verizon ?

Re:What patents ? (1)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284510)

Those published standards may only be for TDM voice, not VoIP or VoIP PSTN gateways AFAIK.

Re:What patents ? (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283582)

I meant verizon not vonage .... I think slashdot randomly changes words if you don't use preview.

5.5% per customer?? (4, Funny)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283452)

as well as 5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer
Hope they don't have more than 18 customers or that's more than 100%!!

Re:5.5% per customer?? (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284044)

Hope they don't have more than 18 customers or that's more than 100%!!

So, are you a math teacher in Kentucky or California?

Re:5.5% per customer?? (1)

winomonkey (983062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284296)

18 x 5.5 = 99
So, if there were MORE than 18 customers (as our friend here says), the total would be MORE than 99%.
19 x 5.5 = 104.5

And, to answer the original post, don't worry, they don't.

Vonage is fucked.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283456)

Their stock's at an all time low, they have the worst customer support (Bob aka Habib in India), their only source of revenue is over-advertising and saturating the telco market with their pointless, stupid commercials and worst of all.. their VoIP service sucks! My bet's this company going bankrupt (or will at least be bought out) in 18 months or less. Woohoo you fucking retards

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (3, Insightful)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283672)

they have the worst customer support (Bob aka Habib in India),

Ah - you've never been a verizon customer then.

Constant overbilling, random shut offs of additional services, fees to reinstate the randomly shut off aditional services, $3000 cell phone bills because they accidentally deleted your voice plan from your cellphone account, $2000 data bills because they accidentally deleted the data plan from your blackberry.

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284060)

I have been a Verizon customer for years.
I have only had 2 problems with them.
The first one, they came out spent 4 hours going over my IN HOUSE wiring and helped solve an issue...NO CHARGE.

The second one involved an email issue, which was solved in under an hour.

Plus, while I was under a contract for my DSL, the change my price from 29.95 to 14.95. No change in service. That was over a year ago and it's still 14.95

I have never had a problem with my Verizon cell service.

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284796)

It should be noted that verizon and verizon wireless are NOT the same. They are two differant companies and do not communicate or share information in any way. Verizon Wireless is a covested interest of Verizon and Vodifon.... and they do have a habit for putting the nails to their customers as they (like most major cell companies) require contracts and large termination fees.

True Story:

Customer has 2 line family share plan with X number of minutes per month.

$60.00 (line 1, includes all the minutes)
$9.99 (line 2, shares off line one, includes no minutes).

Customer cancels line 1 and asks to switch to a single line plan with X number of minutes for line 2. Line is canceled but billing plan is never changed. Customer gets hit with giant bill ($500+) becuase $9.99 share plan comes with no minutes... every call is billed overage rate. But in fairness they DID get credited the full amount... but customer also has 7 lines of service active.

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (1)

philwx (789834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285274)

I was a Verizon Wireless Customer for 5 years, and my phone bill was never the same month to month. Though they always had an excuse for it when I called. Most of the time it was not going over on minutes. Features I didn't remember getting added to the account, etc etc. That and you can't change your features without signing a new contract. It's a trap from hell, I'm glad to be out of it.

I switched to an inferior local service (cricket) just because they charge me the SAME amount every month. And that to me is more important than nationwide coverage.

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284238)

Actually, I am a Verizon customer and, might I add, a very satisfied one as well. Granted their wireless department doesn't know the difference between $1 and 1 cent, they're on point.. and I always get a FLUENT, ENGLISH speaking customer support representative. All in all, the only 'problem' I could think of that I ever had with Verizon was my voicemail getting reset for ? reason.. to this date don't know why, but I only lost 1 message.. and it wasn't serious.

By far better than Vonage..

Re:Vonage is fucked.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284246)

" they have the worst customer support (Bob aka Habib in India), "

I am a Vonage customer. Their service has always been near-perfect for me, in a year and a half. The emailed voicemails are invaluable, as is the phone forwarding that I can change at will.

At one point, a privacy agreement changed. It said to call customer support if you had questions.

Yes, I had questions, and Yes, I called. Someone in India -did- answer. After about a minute I decided I wanted to speak to someone in america, and asked to be transfered to am american office. They complied immediately. Less than a minute wait later, I was on the phone with a nice texan woman.

So yes, they outsource some of their phone support, but if you need it, they do have american phone support too. I'd guess you have to ask for it to get to it, but I was very pleased with the entire experience.

Larger VOIP Implications (5, Insightful)

QuebecNerd (924754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283464)

I read a few articles on that news this afternoon but they are mainly aimed at the financial aspect of the story. I'm still trying to find what exactly are those patents and what are the larger (if any) implications for VOIP in general. Open Source Software like Asterisk could eventually suffer if Verizon begins a patent war and Vonage was only this first victim.

Traditional carrier are having a hard time adjusting to new technology and they will try anything to keep their old ways to stay relevant. During the last few years this happened in many 'traditional' sectors, music and movies being two of them. In the long run, they will adjust or die but for now all of those dinosaurs are desperate to keep their heads above the water. The crippled patent system is their flotation device...

This quote is from CNN's article on the subject coming from a Verizon lawyer:

"Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing. Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world,"

Enough said!

Re:Larger VOIP Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283606)

all is well unless youare a verizon customer in a small community and verizon doesn't give damn about whether you can get the internet or cable or anything as long as youare stuck using there old phone system they say they will get around to you sooner or later, an I for one am tired of waiting for ma bell to say its ok now the smaller market always suffer, horraaa for vonage getting out there and letting everyone have access

Re:Larger VOIP Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284078)

"Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing. Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world,"

He forgot to add "And we plan on achieving that by killing anything that could be better than ours"

Right... (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283532)

"Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing," said John Thorne, Verizon deputy general counsel, in a statement. "Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world."

So they want to put Vonage out of business to .. um ... keep the economy going and create jobs? Why not just do the sensible thing [sadly in this case] and either buy out Vonage, or license the patents to them.

Though, the idea of "phone calls over the net" isn't exactly non-obvious or new. It would have been nice if the article could cite the patents they are violating....

Oh well..

Re:Right... (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284056)

Why not just do the sensible thing [sadly in this case] and either buy out Vonage, or license the patents to them.

For the same reason that the ??AA companies don't just buy out other companies that are making use of their content: those companies threaten their entire archaic business model and force them to make costly changes to their infrastructure that they otherwise would be able to put off for years or even decades. It's far cheaper to sue another company to put them out of business than it is to buy them out and dismantle them.

Of course, in the case of the ??AA, they have the added risk of losing control over the artists, whereas in the telecoms' case, they only get to screw people over in one direction (the customer) instead of both ways.

Re:Right... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284138)

Well we're not talking media. Your argument would make sense if the mafiaa went after legit billable distribution systems (which they do... oddly enough).

I really don't get why this is so complicated though. We have everything we need to do net-2-net calls, in portable nice interoperable fashions. I don't know why we bother with phone numbers [in the way they're used] anymore. Everyone should just have a 10 digit number which is their phone number. Dish them out like you would IP addresses so you can route them et voila.

(hint: behind the scenes your [cell] calls are not routed by your phone # anyways)

Oh shit, cuz that would call into question the monopoly they want to hold over the technology...Analogue phones == waste of bandwidth. That copper you talk to the CO with is using way more bandwidth than is required for the 8khz wide band. GSM encoding at that stage would cut bandwidth and costs.

Meh, ranting ... again ...

Won't someone call me... :-(

Tom

Right...Old Hat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285056)

"Though, the idea of "phone calls over the net" isn't exactly non-obvious or new. It would have been nice if the article could cite the patents they are violating..."

The idea is rather old. I remember when I use to use an ISA sound card and a program (before VOIP) to make point to point "phone calls" over dial-up. Sounded like talking into a tin can.

The only thing this case really could in a worse case mean, is there's no central organized alternative phone service. There is however nothing that prevents point to point phone calls. e.g. Skype. The "phone directory" part is rather easy as well. The Genie is out of the bottle.

Good example of the patent system (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283538)

Ideal:
Person A has a brilliant, rare idea. Person A invests years in refining and expanding said idea. Person A goes out and patents said idea. Person A opens a business with said idea, reaping customer praise and financial reward.

The patent has encouraged creativity and expanded the market.

Reality:
Person A has a somewhat obvious idea. Companys B, C, D, and E without investing in refining or developing the idea run out and patent said idea. Patent is granted to Company B (and sometimes C,D,and E too). Company B sits on patent, preventing anyone else from opening said business in order to protect the large profit margins on their current offering. 15 years later Company B sells the rights to said patent to Clearinghouse F. Clearinghouse F takes the broadest possible view of said patent, and sues everyone in the business. Years of fun in courthouse G ensues.

The patent has prevented the use of the idea or object patented, and has been used to bleed money from companies who do produce things.

Which patents? Could Asterisk violate them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18283596)

Does anyone have any links to which patents and what is covered? Will these patents effect other Internet VoIP providers? How about Asterisk and similar open PBX solutions and protocol stacks?

5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer? (3, Interesting)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283614)

How is Vonage supposed to have any revenues if an injunction is imposed? I suppose they could write some new code that doesn't infringe on the patent, but how would Verizon have any claim to the revenues?

Re:5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer? (0, Flamebait)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283828)

How is Vonage supposed to have any revenues if an injunction is imposed?
5.5% is a drop in the bucket when overhead is low and you're stealing someone else's R&D.

I suppose they could write some new code that doesn't infringe on the patent, but how would Verizon have any claim to the revenues?
They wouldn't.

Re:5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer? (3, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284050)

5.5% is a drop in the bucket when overhead is low and you're stealing someone else's R&D.

5.5% is *never* a drop in the bucket. That's a business-killer even if you're selling stolen cars to people who want to over-pay in a world with no cops.

But... back in the real world... 5.5% is a huge hit to a company that did its own R&D and later found out that someone else went and got the government granted monopoly to the obvious ideas they were using first.

Re:5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284908)

I believe the royalties are back dated, so right off the bat Vonage owes a chunk of change. And if you were Verizon, which would you prefer, a 5.5% revenue stream but a competitor that is becoming more and more popular that has a cheaper, better product, no no competitor at all?

Sooo.. jury nullification went out with racism? (1, Flamebait)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283754)

I don't get it..

i havent seen any stories about any cases of good old fashioned "jury nullification" since the civil rights era when it was used to protect racist groups and institutions...

i don't get it.. it's ok to use jury nullification to beat up on african americans but its not to tell a near monopoly "no, we won't allow you to destroy one of your very few competitors"?

I think we need to start a new biggotry movement that somehow involves monopolistic patent trolls.. then we'll see some action.

Re:Sooo.. jury nullification went out with racism? (3, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283850)

Wow. Someone equating patent infringment to the struggles of civil rights movement--only on Slashdot. Jury nullification is only applicable in criminal cases. Vonage was not charged with a crime; ergo there was nothing to nullify. You might want to read up on the term before using it again.

Re:Sooo.. jury nullification went out with racism? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283864)

sooo... if the jury goes back there and decides "we'll all vote innocent because verizon doesnt need less competition" the judge will what... retry the case?

Re:Sooo.. jury nullification went out with racism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284886)

That sounds like nonsense to me.

Jury nullification is applicable whenever there is a jury involved. If the jurors decide to side with someone against an unjust law, criminal or civil, what are you going to do? Jail the jurors for giving the wrong verdict? That's the whole meaning of jury nullification: jurors giving a verdict of their own conscience rather than strictly based on the law.

Unless you plan on penalizing jurors for choosing a particular verdict (which obviates the entire jury system), then jury nullification always applies when the case involves a jury.

what patents? (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283866)

The article claims that Vonage was in violation of "3 out of 5" patents owned by Verizon, but does not list any information about the actual patents except to claim that they dealt with call waiting and voicemail. I did a little research and was unable to find any reference to these patent numbers. Does anyone have any more information on the patents or their actual numbers or the court filings?

what PDF's? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284756)

Top of the page [zdnet.com] . It's a small PDF, and the patents are near the back. I'll leave it up to the rest of you to find and read (and understand) the patents yourself.

Alternative (2, Informative)

nbucking (872813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18283966)

Why is Vonage taking the flame for VOIP? Isn't there other buisnesses out there that allow people to use the public phone lines for comunication from computer to phone. I use skype which does not have a monthly payment(12 months for $24 for an phone number and voicemail)and 2 cents a minute for calls made in the US. Also, I do enjoy the video phone functionality of it.

Re:Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284710)

You don't start a fight with a big heavy, pumped-up guy. Duh. If they sued ATT they would have gotten their ass kicked with all the patents ATT has in their cellar. Vonage has jack shit and that's why they got and will continue to get raped. Nothing personal, just business.

Beat them up one at a time (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285342)

You beat them up one at a time, starting with the one that you think you'll beat easiest and that are likely to give some returns. Once you've beaten one then there is a bit of precedence which makes your club bigger and their skulls thinner.

You also don't beat up ones that the jury (if there is one, I didn't RTFA) are most likely to be using personally or see as "The Good Guys". ie. Don't beat up on Skype. There are a lot of people who use Skype personally and a jury of those people would likely feel that they'd personally lose out if Skype got damaged. Rather beat up on someone else.

Then there's also the concern with legal fees etc. If you take them all on at the same time, you invest a lot in legal expenses. You're exposing a lot of cash. Rather expose a smaller amount of cash at a time.

Here are what I believe to be two of the patents. (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284346)

They do appear to be overly broad even for the one filed in 1999. Maybe Vonage will be able to talk some sense into the courts after the appeal.

6914966 [google.com]

6795395 [google.com]

RIP VoIP (3, Insightful)

ShawnDoc (572959) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284372)

This is essentially the end of VoIP if this decision holds. Basically, Verizon claims patents on connecting a VoIP line to a PSTN line and on common billing methods for phone service. Verizon was the first one they went after because they are the most high profile. Expect them to leverage this victory to take on anyone else offer VoIP to PSTN service.

Verizon Killed the VoIP Star (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284394)

With this decision, Verizon has just derailed the horde of VoIP startup/conversion trains rolling down the tracks into the future. I picture a caped, curly-mustached Verizon villain with a box and plunger detonating a high bridge made of glass fiber.

Holy...crap... (5, Informative)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284578)

Re:Holy...crap... (1)

philwx (789834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285160)

In my opinion the obvious problem is Corporate greed and lack of ethics.

However, another problem (probably understated) are all the old judges, who did not grow up with any of this technology and have absolutely no clue what the hell the patent lawyers are saying.

To them, a database validating an account is like an Extraterrestrial space craft inter galactic warp drive. To most of us, this is as ridiculous as a company patenting putting up a sign that says "caution, wet floor."

And you can't be a judge unless you're 1,000,000 years old. So that pretty much excludes most of them from having any idea of the retardation of the cases put before them. Old law makers and new technology do not mix at all.

BOYCOTT VERIZON !!! (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284766)

This is bullshit.
I say we should boycott Verizon and refuse to pay any outstanding verizon bills till they back off.

Re:BOYCOTT VERIZON !!! (1)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285484)

I'm a Vonage customer, so I already do.

Wait, 5.5% of $25.00/mo = $1.375 -- looks like Verizon is STILL getting me for TouchTone(tm) all these years later.

Can't someone else proove prior art on this (1, Interesting)

caller9 (764851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284862)

Surely Verizon wasn't the first company to do VoIP. They've patented hooking voip upto a PSTN. Which is the only way that VoIP can work in a mostly PSTN phone system.

Is Cisco's PSTN gateway next? Are they going to sue AT&T/SBC, SuddenLink, RoadRunner, Northland, COX, or the countless others doing the *exact* same thing?

Can someone please slap these trolls with prior art to nullify the patent and take the ammo out of these bastards patent gun. Can you hear me now? Good.

I call shenanigans, get your brooms.

I hope they all die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285218)

The telephone is old technology. It needs to die already. If I need to talk to a buddy, I send him an IM. I NEVER use customer service 800 numbers if an online chat feature is available. I order pizza online. IM technology needs to replace the phone. But then again, I'm an anti-social hermit who despises all human interaction.

Maybe a little dose of reality (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285298)

Vonage's businss model depends on Verizon, SBC and the other existing phone companies. It depends on utilization of their facilities without paying anything for the use.

It also depends on the customer independently having broadband Internet service, often over a conventional telecommunications companies facilities.

Vonage has pretty much no facilities of their own. They rely on the facilities of their competitors being used at no cost to them. This is hardly a case of competition - more of leeching.

Let's assume that Vonage were to be overwhelmingly successful against Verizon, to the extent that Verizon were to cease operations. Vonage would be unable to service the customers that were using Verizon lines to get on the Internet. Interesting. Vonage relies on Verizon to exist to provide free services so they can service the customer.

This doesn't sound at all fair or equitable. I don't see this business model surviving very long in any case.

Re:Maybe a little dose of reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285418)

Isn't this the same argument that Verizon and other incumbents think that Google should pay them to use their lines?

Re:Maybe a little dose of reality (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285526)

You are a poor uninformed soul just like those who think "Google isn't paying for anything". Of course they pay. The pay for the internet access to transfer their data, your VoIP data has to be carried to some system of theirs and then converted to a standard POTS signal (of course they somehow have to have a way of doing all that and I'm sure Verizon isn't going "HEY... We can give you local numbers for free!".

Everyone pays for everything, there is no free. When will you people quit saying that "it's free"?!

Prior Art: Free World Dialup, MSN Messenger? (3, Informative)

Cocoshimmy (933014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285320)

The patents in question seem to have claim to have invented VOIP in 1999. However, the free world dialup project has been around since 1995 [freeworlddialup.com] . Also, back in 1998-1999 I remember Microsoft was offering free PC-Phone calls to the US using MSN Messenger. Their partner was charging for the same service. I think that would certainly qualify as prior art.
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