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The End for Vonage?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the ohhh-they-can't-take-it-there dept.

Patents 296

TheRealSCA writes "The latest in Verizon vs. Vonage is in. The judge has basically stopped Vonage from accepting new customers. From the article: 'A judge issued an injunction Friday that effectively bars Internet phone carrier Vonage from signing up new customers as punishment for infringing on patents held by Verizon. Vonage's lawyers said the compromise injunction posted by U.S District Judge Hilton is almost as devastating as an injunction that would have affected Vonage's 2.2 million existing customers. "It's the difference of cutting off oxygen as opposed to the bullet in the head," Vonage lawyer Roger Warin said.'"

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Yay! (5, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636131)

Our "intellectual property" system at work for you, ensuring innovation and -- as a nice side effect -- severely restricting competition in the marketplace. Hip Hip Hooray

Re:Yay! (3, Funny)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636191)

youre not doing it right....

insuring innovation by.. providing innovative new ways for incumbents to crush advances which threaten their bottom line.

Re:Yay! (3, Insightful)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636229)

Damn.

I've been enjoying cheap phone service for 18 months now, and hoped it would last a lot longer. If Vonage goes under, and the other VoIP companies face the same patent issues, I may end up having to sign up for Comcast's crappy phone/cable/internet package... increasing my total bill for those services by $10 now, and by another $30 after a year.

I absolutely refuse to go back to Qwest with their horribly incompetent customer service people (apologies if any of you work there), surprise bonus charges and fees, and the constant attempts to sell you new features you don't need. Thanks a lot Verizon, you really know how to ruin a good thing (and I'm not even in your service area!).

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636307)

Funny how open source, which uses a license to let ANYONE modify and forces them to use the license also, seems to promote more creativity and competition than the current IP laws. (I mean look at just how many versions of Linux there ARE or pen & paper games under the OGL...)

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636385)

I thought Open source used copyright...

Re:Yay! (4, Insightful)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636345)

You know why this didn't happen with the blackberry though....All the govt officials and there crackberry phones wouldn't let this happen. But a smaller more useless company like Vonage...Oh yeah throw the book at em!

Re:Yay! (1)

john g the 4th (1040350) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636401)

Route for SkyPE.

NEW VONAGE THEME JINGLE, PLEASE READ (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636665)

(to the tune of, woo woo, wo woo woo, from the vonage commercial)

woo woo, we got sued!!!

woo woo, we got sued!!!

woo woo, we got sued!!!

woo woo, woo woo,

woo woo, we got sued!!!

Bye Bye!

Re:Yay! (1)

wykthorr (999067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636771)

For THE democratic and free country that the US should be your intelectual property and patent laws truly suck. It just makes it very hard to innovate. The court should work against monopoly not to ensure it. By killing Vonage the court has fortified Verizon's position by eliminating competition. This sounds as a move toward monopoly to me. I really hope the EU parliment will not vote for software patents.

Re:Yay! (1, Troll)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636939)

because the EU's first to file system is so much better and less corrupt?

how about the way they cowtowed to the US and their MAFIAA masters with the EUCD... how about monstrosities like DVADSI that make the DMCA look benign and noninvasive.

im not defending the US here, but EU citizens have no right to snub when theyre under as corrupt a system, even more so (dvadsi allows corporations to operate private police forces against citizens! yikes!)

Re:Yay! (1)

cyrtainne (1078481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636775)

Yeah, HORRAY FOR MONOPOLIES!! They will take over the world! Didn't I recently read an article here on Slashdot that stated that Verizon and Vontage had signed an agreement on said patent. This is infantile.

Fist sport (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636143)

Frosty piss for you!

The stage is set (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636163)

Now that Verizon has more-or-less successfully defended their BROAD patents on VoIP stuff, I wonder how long it will be before AT&T/Cingular starts suing ALL of the other phone companies for violating THEIR patents.

I imagine that AT&T owns MANY of the patents on much of the phone technology currently in use. Or at least, owns patents that are "close enough" to successfully sue everybody for infringement.

It's all so crazy. The telecom industry in the US is fucked.

Re:The stage is set (3, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636197)

"I wonder how long it will be before AT&T/Cingular starts suing ALL of the other phone companies for violating THEIR patents."

Shouldn't be long: only have to wait until this approach is more profitable than providing phone service.

"Renting switching equipment is not a good business model when switching equipment is ubiquitous". -- Eben Moglen

Re:The stage is set (4, Insightful)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636449)

I say bring it on. I want patent lawsuits to cripple our entire legal system. I want it to get SO bad that they see what a pile of shit it is and do something about it.

Re:The stage is set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636555)

Insightful, escalate things until it's an emergency and *anything* you do suddenly is justifiable, I use this tactic often.

Re:The stage is set (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636481)

Now that Verizon has more-or-less successfully defended their BROAD patents on VoIP stuff, I wonder how long it will be before AT&T/Cingular starts suing ALL of the other phone companies for violating THEIR patents.


Its hardly as if AT&T wasn't already enforcing its patents.

I imagine that AT&T owns MANY of the patents on much of the phone technology currently in use.


Possibly, though patents don't live forever (or effectively so) the way modern copyrights do, so lots of the patents that they may have secured over traditional telephone service are probably long expired. Then again, just because AT&T owns a patent in that area doesn't mean other big phone companies are violating it if they are using the patented technology. Licensing exists, after all.

Re:The stage is set (2, Insightful)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636975)

Remember, AT&T isn't AT&T of old. I don't know for certain, but I'd guess a lot of the old AT&T intellectual property is shared by the RBOC descendents like USWest er, Qwest, PacBell -er AT&T, Nynex -er Verizon, Bell Atlantic -er Verizon, Bell South -er AT&T, Ameritech -er AT&T, and Southwestern Bell -er AT&T.

Hmm. Maybe they ARE the AT&T of old.

Re:The stage is set (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636873)

Only in the US? I think that that's the fact for the rest of the world too... Telecom companies that doesn't extend broadband to all locations, telecom companies that doesn't permit voice over broadband even though they are providing the broadband, telecom companies that charge extreme fees for roaming mobile phones when in another country (both data and voice).

The list can be made longer... Think you get the idea... Only truth here is "money talks"...

If you're a current customer, call retentions now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636183)

I bet they'll do almost anything to keep a customer since they can't add anymore.

And if I were Verizon, I'd offer a free year of VoiceWing to anyone switching from Vonage.

Re:If you're a current customer, call retentions n (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636293)

I bet they'll do almost anything to keep a customer since they can't add anymore.

      In the US, at least. There's a world-wide market for this kind of thing however. US patent law isn't and can't be enforced everywhere (thank God!).

Re:If you're a current customer, call retentions n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636741)

US patent law isn't and can't be enforced everywhere (thank God!).

If the US Constitution supposedly protects the rights of non-citizens then I don't see why our laws don't apply in other countries as well.

Re:If you're a current customer, call retentions n (1)

zcubed (916242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636551)

I just went to http://www.vonage.com/ [vonage.com] and it seems they are still taking orders. I went all the way to where they asked for my info. Maybe it would have bombed at that point.

Re:If you're a current customer, call retentions n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636719)

Oh they'll take your money. They just won't let you become a customer. And when they file for bankruptcy, well, you're out of luck.

pwnage (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636185)

PWNAGE

Re:pwnage (1)

neolith (110650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636933)

More like, PHONEAGE.

New commercial for Vonage... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636195)

Whooo-hooo, wooo hoo-hoo!
Whooo-hooo, wooo hoo-hoo!
Whoo-hoo-hoo, oooh-oooh...oops.

Quiet weekend (5, Funny)

Coldmoon (1010039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636205)

Well at least I can watch TV this weekend without having to watch any more of those annoying Vonage commercials...

Re:Quiet weekend (5, Funny)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636297)

dunno, if it's verizon vs vonage, verizon wins the 'annoying commercials' competition.

"have you heard the new fall out boy single? it. gets. me. pumped!"

y'know what gets me 'pumped'? the thought of stabbing that man repeatedly and flaying the corpse.

Re:Quiet weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636573)

Ah, thanks. Reminds me why I don't miss having cable TV or any broadcast reception.

Re:Quiet weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636693)

Someone please mod parent "Insightful"

Re:Quiet weekend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636707)

I tell my wife that the spinning motion he does with his finger is what he is going to do to his boyfriend's asshole when he gets home from the gym.

Re:Quiet weekend (-1, Troll)

danielsfca2 (696792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636379)

Yes! F*** vonage and those god damn f***ing commercials. If I never hear that damn "song" again it will be too soon.

Praise the lord!

Re:Quiet weekend (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636635)

Verizon killed Vonage commercial now you kill Geico and their F'in commercials. Both the Caveman and the Gecko MUST DIE.

Re:Quiet weekend (1)

danielsfca2 (696792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636889)

Hahahaha. I'd support that.

My next candidate: Those damn "The 'New' AT&T" commercials with their stupid "all around the world..." theme. It sounds like a bad Oasis song.

Re:Quiet weekend (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637025)

Hold the Caveman down and force-feed him the raw Gecko... that ought to take care of both of them in one swell foop.

Re:Quiet weekend (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636577)

I wonder how far in advance they buy their ad spots . . . they might still run for some time yet. That's a lot of money getting flushed down the toilet.

Re:Quiet weekend (5, Funny)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636847)

Hmm...commercials...

Oh yeah! I saw those last time I visited my parents. I kept trying to fast-forward through them, but it wouldn't work. They said it was because they didn't have TiVO -- but that just didn't make sense to me.

Apparantly there are actually people out there who watch TV shows when the network execs tell them to. They have to put up with these "commercial" things, and the show doesn't pause when they get up to go tot he restroom.

I don't want to live in that kind of world.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636213)

Patent infringement is NEARLY always about one big guy versus another big guy -- or a big guy versus a little guy. How often do patents actually help individuals rather than mega-conglomerates? Even if you have a small business with various patents, can you afford to protect them in court?

Vonage lived by the sword -- they themeselves believed in patents. While I feel this judgment is counter-market, it doesn't cause as much damage as patents do in general. The idea that someone can monopolize the thoughts, motions or creations of another individual is ridiculous, especially in the multitude of patents we all know are ridiculous.

So be it. Whenever anyone who uses patents loses a patent war, they get what they deserve. I feel no pain for Vonage, nor anyone who decides to base their businesses on forcing other businesses not to compete in a certain way.

Rest in pieces, Vonage. Maybe Verizon will be next.

What? (3, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636263)

So you think this wouldn't have happened if Vonage hadn't pursued patents?

Let me add a dose of reality to your delusion. They simply would have been sued out of business sooner.

Re:What? (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636367)

I think his point was that they don't have any basis to whine about it since they likely would have done the same thing were they in a position to do so.

Re:What? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636631)

Why do you think their patents weren't defensive? Which VoIP competitors has Vonage sued out of business over a patent dispute?

Re:What? (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636515)

So you think this wouldn't have happened if Vonage hadn't pursued patents?

It was clear to me what the parent meant - that he does not feel sorry for Vonage because they themselves believed in patents.

Don't know which post you read and how you came to that conclusion.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636591)

Say you walk into a room. There's a sword leaning against the wall next to the threshold and a fully armored knight charging you with his sword held high. Do you pick up the sword and parry, or do you simply make peace with your last few seconds of life?

It is clear to me that the parent considers defensive patents the same as using patents in a predatory manner. He's wrong.

Re:What? (5, Funny)

RxScram (948658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637051)

I quickly cast Mage Armor, do a tumble check to get out of the room without being skewered, then unleash a lightning bolt on his armor wearing ass!

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (2, Insightful)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636421)

Vonage lived by the sword -- they themeselves believed in patents.
Whenever anyone who uses patents loses a patent war, they get what they deserve.
While you were away living in your patentless fantasy world, real-world business owners who played by the rules, filed patents -- because they had no other choice!

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636737)

Don't hate the player, hate the game.
This has got to be one of the most insidious catch phrases of the last 20 years.

If the players were not happy with the game, they would work to change it. The players are responsible for the game they play. What do you think would happen if Verizon and friends started putting their muscle behind patent reform?

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (1)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636943)

The parent was implying that Vonage had some sort of legitimate voice in reforming the patent system. Ha!

If IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Ford, GM, ExxonMobil, Chevron, GE and AT&T all got together and lobbied the government to reform the patent system, maybe something could be done. Good luck putting that dream team together.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (4, Insightful)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636479)

I said much the same yesterday about patents.

Patents are a government granted monopoly (on an idea, in this case) to encourage a certain behavior (inventing). This sort of monopoly has lots of hidden costs for the economy and an unknown benefit for the patent holder. Why not keep everything clear and open? Don't allow the patent. If they idea is really great, it should be easy for the company that that discovered it to dominate the market in the future. Their competitors should take some time to get "me too" products to market, and that time can get them some real dough. If the idea isn't that innovative, it'll be copied easily and won't mean much. This system -- the one without patents -- still rewards people with good ideas.

This is the Adam Smith warning all over again. Government granted monopolies seem like cheap ways of subsidizing desired activities (research, in this case), but they end up costing a fortune. It's like funding things on bond issuance. The government regularly gives money to the NSF and the NIH because science has a solid track record of providing big returns on the investment, but using patents to cover research is obviously bad, since we're taking a loan instead of buying an investment. Business patents involve the government taking a loan to subsidize business, but without any public discussion about the possible benefits of taking that loan.

Locking up ideas in patetents is, to me, morally reprehensible too. It inhibits the free flow of ideas by regulating techniques, knowledge, and even the conclusions one can draw from data. I believe that the cost to society of the patent is too high. People invented things before they were granted monopolies, and they will continue to do so after those monopolies are removed. As the pace of innovation accelerates, more people encounter roadblocks caused by this unwise funding. And its exactly that they are paying for the discoveries of a past era through royalties now.

Intellectual property of all sorts is absurd. The idea could sink our culture.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (4, Insightful)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636805)

If the idea isn't that innovative, it'll be copied easily and won't mean much. This system -- the one without patents -- still rewards people with good ideas.

You're making the false assumption that innovative == technically difficult. Often it isn't, it's simply a matter of thinking outside the box.

How technically difficult is it to produce the opener on the top of a modern soda can, especially once you've seen one? Not very. However, as a solution to the problems of pull-tab cans it was a pretty damn clever innovation. There are thousands of examples where people say "I could have thought of that". Well maybe, but they didn't and there is no reason to penalize the people who did since the non-inventors see the system as "unfair".

The place where the current patent system fails is in the area of process patents. A method of interconnecting any two existing things should not be patentable unless truly new technology was invented to accomplish the purpose. The same with tacking "on the internet" to any existing process (eg One-Click). However, an infinitely variable valve timing assembly for automotive use... at least a "maybe".

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (1)

wykthorr (999067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636977)

I said much the same yesterday about patents.
... Locking up ideas in patetents is, to me, morally reprehensible too. It inhibits the free flow of ideas by regulating techniques, knowledge, and even the conclusions one can draw from data. I believe that the cost to society of the patent is too high. People invented things before they were granted monopolies, and they will continue to do so after those monopolies are removed. As the pace of innovation accelerates, more people encounter roadblocks caused by this unwise funding. And its exactly that they are paying for the discoveries of a past era through royalties now.

Intellectual property of all sorts is absurd. The idea could sink our culture.
True. But I don't suppose patents will go away anytime soon since the ones ruling are the big corporations whom benefit a whole lot from them. We're having a hard time keeping software patents away in Europe and we might loose the war since most of the big ones would like having then so that they can sue small competitors out of the market. So as long as the big guys have the power patents will be there.

Be careful what you wish for.... (5, Insightful)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637053)

So, let's play this game - we'll even name it something like China. You the player spend oh 5 years researching and creatnig some neato' keen scientificly designed product but you don't Patent it because well you just don't roll that way. So you bring this thing to market and it's really kewl but it's kind of expensive because afterall you have all those years of R&D to pay for and a family to feed. 2 months after having released your neato' keen device to market sales sharply drop. Gee, why is that? Oh wait, someone else is playing the game too. Only they are playing it a little different. Seems they were one of your very first customers only instead of using your product they took it apart, duplicated the pieces, and are now making them too - for 1/4 your asking price. They paid nothing for R&D other than the time spent reversing your product and because they have no R&D tail to pay for they aren't deep in the red like you were when you started. No patent so you have no way to fight them - now what? Two months is actually not a crazy estimate either BTW, hell these days you're likely to hand them the plans to manufacture your precious widget anyway. 5mins after the plans hit their desk they are being duped. Worse they might even run the production line double time - you get the products built during the day, they sell the products they built at night. Whoops, how do you fix that exactly? Think this through....

The patent system right now SUX, I'll grant that. However it doesn't suck because the idea is completely bad it sucks because the patent office grants overly broad patents and because we have a judicial branch running amuck making decisions on technology they barely understand. Dumping the patent system while nice in fantasy land isn't going to necessarily mean that it will make things better. China, and other countries, are copying products with little to no R&D like mad and undercutting the real companies making these products. The result is that some of the companies are losing their ass due to R&D costs - what you propose, nuking the patent system, would allow this with no penalty. You sure that's what you want?

Oh and yes people invented things before patents. Then they VERY closely held onto that information for fear that others would benefit from it if it was shared with anyone other than maybe an apprentice. They didn't simply tell every Tom, Dick, and Harry, who wandered by how to do the thing that allowed them to make a living I promise you. There also wasn't this huge global information system that would allow the information to spread like wildfire.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (1)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636487)

Patent infringement is NEARLY always about one big guy versus another big guy -- or a big guy versus a little guy. How often do patents actually help individuals rather than mega-conglomerates? Even if you have a small business with various patents, can you afford to protect them in court?

At least patents give the little guy a chance. Without patents you create a product and then one of the mega-corps buys one, pulls it apart, and starts selling it for 50% of your price because they have the leverage to get the materials at 25% of your cost. Then you have no recourse and have lost all your R&D money. There will be no motivation for innovation since the mega-corp will happily keep selling you the same stuff and nobody will want to expend the effort to have their ideas stolen. Besides, an obvious patent infringement case should be easy work for a competent lawyer and they should line up for the chance to get their share of the settlement.

As for Vonage, meh. VoIP has some interesting applications and all, but tying a conventional handset to a Cisco ATA isn't really one of them.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (2, Interesting)

werfele (611119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636547)

Vonage lived by the sword -- they themselves believed in patents.
I don't know about Vonage specifically, but it's unwarranted to assume that because they applied for patents that they believed in patents. Those patents might have been intended as (apparently inadequate) defensive patents [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword. (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637039)

The idea that someone can monopolize the thoughts, motions or creations of another individual is ridiculous
you're certainly not the only one on slashdot that thinks this, but I don't see the logic. If I am a drug company, for example, and I spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing some new drug, I need a patent to maintain the exclusivity necessary to recover the development costs. If I do not get a patent, the drug goes generic, everyone else produces it without having to pay any development, and I lose money. As a result I go out of business and don't discover any new drugs. Is that what you want?

Well that Settles it! (1)

Sneakernets (1026296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636219)

Telecommunications technology just took two gigantic steps backward.

Congratulations, Verizon, I'm dropping you.

Whatever... (1)

CoreTech (1084765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636241)

I'm a happy Vonage customer. As long as my service is up and running, this doesn't bother me. I'll stick with them for the time being, assuming the company stays solvent.

Now, if I were a Vonage shareholder, I would be freaking out right now...

Re:Whatever... (2, Interesting)

faedle (114018) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636409)

That's the problem. Vonage, like most young companies, is only solvent as long as they start taking in new customers. You slam the brakes on new signups, the whole house of cards can collapse.

I give Vonage six weeks. Hell, if they can't get this injunction lifted, and the don't find a way to work around it and sign up new customers, they may have six hours. We'll see how Wall Street responds to this news.

Re:Whatever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636983)

Additionally, the 5.5% revenue on existing customers they are required to pay to Verizon will likely ensure that even with their existing customer base they will not be profitable.

Thanks, Verizon... (4, Insightful)

keithmo (453716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636269)

...you just made my choice a little easier. I'm a happy Vonage customer, and I'm also in the market for a new cellular provider. I can now scratch Verizon off the short list.

Re:Thanks, Verizon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636569)

I'm also in the market for a new cellular provider. I can now scratch Verizon off the short list.

What, Verizon Math [blogspot.com] wasn't already enough of a reason? My company has Verizon's slowest DSL plan, which we were paying $40/month for. I saw it advertised for $25/month and called them to ask why we were paying an extra 37%. They admitted that the rate had dropped 9 months before I called. Their rep actually told me that their database couldn't be automatically updated to reflect the new rate -- it had to be done manually for each customer when they called in. They refused to refund the 9 months of over-payment. A few months later, they raised the rate to $30/month. They must have upgraded their database, since they didn't have any problem making that change automatic (sarcasm). When it came time to buy a cell phone, I sure as hell didn't go to Verizon.

Re:Thanks, Verizon... (0, Troll)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636611)

I'm a happy Vonage customer, and I'm also in the market for a new cellular provider. I can now scratch Verizon off the short list.

Without first comparing prices, quality of service, and service contracts? I don't think so.

Re:Thanks, Verizon... (3, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636859)

You've never known someone to avoid a company on principle? I do it all the time and ENJOY voting with my wallet....

...but then again I've been known to vote to throw elections, too...

Re:Thanks, Verizon... (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636703)

Not if you want coverage outside of large cities (50k+) you can't. I live in a town of about 1000 people. Verizon is the only cell provider that gets coverage here. My parents live a town of 25k. Verizon is the only one who covers the whole town.

It amazes me that multiple providers can provide service to small towns in India, but not in the US.

Might as well (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636273)

Sell all remaining assets and close down. I'd rather the company go up in a huge explosion than have it choke to death from the government backed hands of a competitor. OH! Forget selling assets. Just blow it up!

This is cool (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636301)

I think this is excellent. Now any company can be prohibited from taking on new customers including Verizon. This is one of the best penalties I've ever seen. It is fair to existing customers. A true Teddy Roosevelt move http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt#Le gacy [wikipedia.org] .
--
Get solar with technology with expired patents http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:This is cool (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636809)

From the article at cnn.com [cnn.com] :

The judge gave Vonage two weeks to try to convince him to stay the injunction. Verizon (Charts) then suggested the judge allow Vonage to keep servicing its existing customers if a stay was necessary.

Verizon gets 5.5% royalties off of Vonage's sales, so it's probably just as well for them to keep squeezing some money out of them... it's the best of both worlds for Verizon... no new customers can sign up with Vonage, existing customers will leave Vonage, out of fear of it falling apart completely, and the existing customers that ride it out with Vonage to the end still make some money for Verizon.

The lawyer for Vonage said that "It's the difference of cutting off oxygen as opposed to the bullet in the head," and I think he's pretty much right... Vonage isn't profitable as it is. If they can't get more customers, I don't think they ever can be. Their stock is in the toilet, and existing customers like myself find themselves seriously considering other options. I don't think Vonage will be around much longer unless they can, by some miracle, work around the patents in question, and make a brilliant, hard-fought comeback. Even if they do find a workaround, Vonage's previously tarnished image is now looking downright awful. Not to mention the fact that other big players like AT&T and Comcast might find some different patents they can pull out to try to squeeze more money out of them.

It's been nice knowing you Vonage, but I don't think this relationship is going to work out between us. Bye.

Secret $5 plan? (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636305)

Hmm.. I wonder if this means the return of the secret $5 unlimited inbound plan if you call to cancel. Perhaps I'll just use Vonage for inbound, and someone else for outbound, instead of just porting my number to someone else. Definitely the right time to learn how to unlock my adapters, though. Feel kind of bad for Vonage, though. I wonder who Verizon will sue next?

New slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636309)

No SIP for you!!!!

what's next? (1)

urban_warrior (1001615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636373)

next someone's going to tell me there's a patent for the double click..... oh wait

Alternative to vonage? (2, Informative)

RendonWI (958388) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636381)

I have been a happy vonage customer for over a year now, cheap unlimited phone is great. Looks like this could be the start of the end for that. So what is next? Anyone use Skype and like it? Is Skype next to be sued? Could anyone tell me alternative to Vonage other than Skype. I want my cheap phone service damnit!

Re:Alternative to vonage? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636519)

Verizon Voicewing [verizon.com] . I doubt Verizon will sue themselves.

Sunrocket, probably others, who cares? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636659)

disclaimer: I used to work for a company that provided VoIP equipment...

There's a whole shitload of VoIP providers out there. Most of them employ people with the technical ability of a rotted stump and will mis-route your 911 calls. It's a business plan that attracts venture capital but nobody who actually runs one of these places has more than a dozen brain cells. They want ATAs drop shipped to customers so they don't have to hold stock, they can't read an Ethereal (Wireshark, whatever) dump, etc. Vonage was the best of a bad lot, IMO.

Unless you do a lot of international calling, just keep your cell phone or pay for a land line. If you need international, Skype really is pretty good.

Cisco ? (2, Insightful)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636413)

So where does this leave you if you're handing off your calls over a PRI using a Cisco router (with h323/MGCP) >

Re:Cisco ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636621)

Absolutely unaffected. Too many US government agencies rely on Cisco VoIP phone systems, therefore nothing will happen. Just like when Crackberry was under the patent lawsuit gun, nothing shut them down either despite all the sabre-rattling.... because too many govt organizations depend on that too.

Some thoughts (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636433)

Keep in mind that the Markman hearing (to decide what the claim actually covers) adoption of verizon's construction of all the claims means that all of the patents read so broad that things like BIND and SIP infringe -- Add to that court irregularities: no patent case expertise and instead of days, there was only a 30 minute per side argument per side for 48 claims over 7 patents -- and there's a pretty strong case for appeal.

IANAL.

Goverment at its best! (3, Insightful)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636461)

More than a few years ago, the big AT&T was forced to split up to remove a monopoly they had. Well, lets see, now SBC, Bellsouth, Cingular, DishNetwork and probably more I don't know of all fly under that AT&T banner. All reports of Qwest suck, and I have my own hatred for Vonage but it was a choice some found to be good. Where is all my choice going and why isn't someone in the government stopping this? The telecoms are raping the people AGAIN, and although not a monopoly yet, its getting to the point of being one if not something worse. Now that VoIP is being challenged, that could effectively eliminate even more plays like Charter and Comcast.

Re:Goverment at its best! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18636677)

Technically, SBC bought AT&T. But you are right.

Re:Goverment at its best! (1)

teh_chrizzle (963897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636815)

More than a few years ago, the big AT&T was forced to split up to remove a monopoly they had. Well, lets see, now SBC, Bellsouth, Cingular, DishNetwork and probably more I don't know of all fly under that AT&T banner.

correction: the the AT&T corporation was declared a monopoly and broken up. the new AT&T Inc. monoply is different. it has "Inc." in the name.

corporations are monopolistic, greedy, and unamerican. Inc.'s are cool. google is an Inc. so is apple. you kids love the googles, right?

clearly, you have nothing to fear from the ne AT&T Inc.

Re:Goverment at its best! (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636945)

DishNetwork merely has a sales and marketing agreement with AT&T. They aren't owned by them, at least not in a substantial way.

Oh for heaven's sake... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636473)

Remember when you idiots were convinced that Blackberries were going to disappear?

Some money will get passed around and this will get settled. Corporations don't just fold up shop so a bunch of Perl chimps can feel more righteous about their silly notions of "innovation".

Re:Oh for heaven's sake... (3, Interesting)

faedle (114018) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636819)

RIM was sideswiped by (arguably) a patent troll who had no tangible product, no customers, and nobody had ever heard of.

This is a lawsuit brought by a well-funded telephone company (the largest LEC in the United States, and one of the largest telecom companies on the planet). Wall Street will respond negatively to this news once it starts circulating.

The news is just now hitting the wire, and Vonage stock has already taken a 10% beating. Once the announcements are made by Vonage and Verizon later this afternoon, expect the stock to be in penny-stock territory range on Monday once trading ends.

That does not bode well for Vonage as a company.

Verizon fully intends, through the courts, to shut Vonage down. It appears, effectively, they have.

Next week's news story: Verizon acquires a majority stake in Vonage as a "settlement" to the lawsuit, and begins "transitioning Vonage customers to Verizon's VoIP offering". Six months down the road, Vonage will quietly cease operations, after Verizon uses the leverage of their stock position to shutter the company after all customers have been moved off Vonage's revenue column.

Re:Oh for heaven's sake... (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637027)

The only glitch in that plan: how many Vonage customers are going to voluntarily move to the very company that just screwed over their chosen phone setup? Were I a Vonage customer, "Verizon" would be a 4-letter word to me right about now.

Re:Oh for heaven's sake... (1)

hpydys24 (955725) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636909)

Not necessarily. The Blackberry suit was different in that the patent holder wasn't actually a competitor. An injunction would have been useless for NTP. They wanted a significant settlement/royalties so they could make some money.


Here, Vonage is a significant threat to Verizon's regular telephone service. Why settle the case if you can enjoin Vonage from signing up new customers, effectively forcing people to stick with their regular telephone provider (in many cases, Verizon)? In the long run, Verizon would probably make a lot more money by eliminating Vonage altogether than they would by settling the case. This also gives Verizon the option of getting into the VoIP business themselves somewhere down the line, with one less competitor.

Offtopic, negotiating with Verizon ? (0, Offtopic)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636489)

This is somewhat offtopic, but I was wondering if anybody has any experience negotiating a lower monthly bill with Verizon? Right now I'm paying about $55 a month for pretty basic cell phone and SMS texting services. I think with healthy competition in the marketplace I can bring this down to about $40 - $45 per month. I'm thinking about calling them up soon and threatening to jump ship over to Cingular / AT&T when the new iPhone is available. Then I will propose to stay with Verizon provided that they give me a lower rate. Has anybody done this successfully? Or will they simply tell me to go fsck myself and they don't really need my business after all ?

Injuction served when? (1)

ZOMFF (1011277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636583)

. . . because I can still sign up for service via the Vonage website.

Re:Injuction served when? (1)

EVil Lawyer (947367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636935)

TFA says next Thursday, guy.

This will change rapidly... (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636613)

I think that Verizon is going to become a lot more interested in negociating with Vonage after this ruling. Why? Because if Vonage goes bankrupt, Verizon is likely to get squat in bankruptcy court. They don't have a lot of physical assets. They have a customer base - a loyal one. How many Vonage customers, having already switched from an RBOC, are going to switch BACK voluntarily?

Verizon viewed this as a way to get a piece of a growing market without having to invest anything. tey were going to use the patent to force Vonage to charge a "Verizon Tax" on their customers, which would make the service less attractive to users and maybe send somefolks back to the RBOC's - not to mention the fat licensing fees. But the judge may have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs.

that's a great quote (2, Insightful)

Mean Ass Troll (834934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636669)

"It's the difference of cutting off oxygen as opposed to the bullet in the head," Vonage lawyer Roger Warin

cutting off the oxygen supply has long been a term used by management to describe a method of dealing with competition.

gun to the head references are more often used by unions (buzz hargrove comes to mind)

Would make it easier to buy Vonage (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636675)

Especially if Vonage will stop their advertising cash fountain.
Given how much they spend to get each new customer and how much they throw away at pop-up/banner/tv ads, this would be a good thing. And if they manage to concentrate on making things more efficient there is a hope of break-even state. Which would make them an attractive acquisition target for anyone who wants to add to customer base.

Legal? (1)

alisson (1040324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636687)

That decision seems questionably legal... Any lawyers around to explain this more thoroughly??

Very worrysome (2, Insightful)

alegrepublic (83799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636755)

This could be not only the end of Vonage, but also the end of Asterisk, Skype and VoIP in general. I am not a Vonage customer and do not plan to be, as I prefer using Asterisk and small termination providers, which is much cheaper than Vonage. However, I think anyone interested in the success of VoIP should help Vonage win this fight, either by contributing money to their defense or protesting the decision to the Government. Letting Verizon get away with it would set us back 20 years or so until the patents expire.

I also wonder what will happen with all the hardware currently in stores that is set up to connect to Vonage. This may be a nightmare for stores and their unaware customers. I think they judge did not consider all the unintended consequences of his decision.

really? (2, Interesting)

warrior_s (881715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636759)

FTA: "The judge has basically stopped Vonage from accepting new customers."

But I can still go to their website and sign-up [vonage.com]

Vonage Hasn't Complied (1)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636763)

They are still taking customers on. I just went to the site and was able to sign up. I never completed, I stopped short of hitting submit on my cc #. It seems it would only take a phone call to stop the server from taking on new customers. I obviously don't use vonage but I hope they stay in business discount services are a good thing. I know quite a few people who wouldn't have a phone if it weren't for vonage.

Software patents = bad. Other patents, though? (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636813)

I think pretty much everyone on Slashdot agrees that software patents are a bad idea. However, isn't part of this about technology/concept patents that aren't software related? Another article mentions patents "that describe technology for completing phone calls between VoIP users and people using phones on the traditional public switched network, authenticating VoIP callers, validating VoIP callers' accounts, fraud protection, providing enhanced features, using Wi-Fi handsets with VoIP services and monitoring VoIP caller usage."

To me, a few of those things are definitely software, but others are almost definitely hardware or mixed hardware/software patents. Personally, I've got nothing wrong with non-software patents, since they allow people to make money off their inventions for a while without having to worry about knockoffs of their product. If I were an inventor and came up with some device (say it ties into another system using custom software to keep this parallel), I'd sure as hell want my patent to allow me to make some money before Big Company X was able to make a similar product for less than I can make it for.

Exclude those software patents from this lawsuit, and I really don't have an issue with it, except that my Vonage bill may go up at some point (still cheaper than TWC Digital Phone).

Wait a minute - this is not a merger (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636827)

If Vonage customers think that Verizon is going to simply send you a card to become a Verizon customer you are wrong. Verizon doesn't want those Vonage customers, they want their own. And even if they did they wouldn't make it any easier to switch than any other shmoe off the street. THAT's the point of oligopoly. IF Vonage dies than most of those customers will switch to old style copper wire phone. Phone companies don't care who DOESN'T have service, they only care about the service people have from other carriers.

Vonage is money for nothing (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18636989)

Let's see, Vonage builds ... nothing and sells little boxes to people to connect to their Internet connection. This then connects to a couple of termination sites that either connect to other Vonage customers (maybe) or just dumps the call out on the standard telephone network.

Yes, individual calls out cost them something, but that infrastructure is built and maintained by the other companies. Generally, by the people too dumb to have switched away to Vonage and their VOIP ilk.

The problem is that Vonage is 100% dependent on the telephone network they are competing with. They are selling a service which requires their competitor to operate. This is generally a bad business model, except it can generate extremely high profits for a short period of time. Vonage can't put Verizon out of business as it would eliminate their ability to operate.

Of course having a leech syphoning off the high-value residential customers does nothing but piss Verizon, AT&T and others off. This has been coming for a long time and it isn't over yet. I would guess some telecom company finds some way to put every one of the leeching VOIP services like Vonage and Lingo out of business soon.

The time for taking Vonage is coming to a middle? (1)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637057)

When I was looking to see what to do about a phone last year, it looked like Vonage's quarterly losses were identical to their quarterly budget for advertising. If they can stem the tide of people leaving and cut their advertising budget, maybe that brings them close to a break-even. On the other hand, I'd be foolish not to look into their competition and figure out how to hedge my bets in case they circle the drain.

My time for taking Vonage seriously is certainly coming to a middle.

How will this affect other VoIP providers? (2, Insightful)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637067)

I'm surprised no one has posted this question yet: how will this legal battle affect other, smaller VoIP providers? I get my VoIP service from my regional ISP, and I'm very happy with it. They deliver a completely unlocked SIP service to me, and my Asterisk server uses it for outside calls. Will the Vonage patent-wielding kill my local VoIP provider too?

Boohoo, boo, hoo hoo! (1)

dj42 (765300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18637069)

I'm tired of their commercial and the absence of any QOS is stupid. I hope they go down quick so that irritating shit gets off the air and I don't have to mute my TV when it comes on.
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