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EFF Patent Busting - Prior Art Needed for VOIP

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the who-you-gonna-call dept.

Patents 170

JumperCable writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to bust an overly broad patent by a company called Acceris. Acceris claims patents on processes that implement voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) using analog phones as endpoints. These patents cover telephone calls over the Internet. Specifically, the claims describe a system that connects two parties where the receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection, but the call is routed in part through the Internet or any other 'public computer network'. The calls must also be 'full duplex', meaning that both parties can listen and talk at the same time, like in an ordinary phone call. To bust these overly broad claims, we need 'prior art' — any publication, article, patent or other public writing that describes the same or similar ideas being implemented before September 20, 1995."

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Phone patches for radio? (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645023)

Specifically, the claims describe a system that connects two parties where the receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection, but the call is routed in part through the Internet or any other 'public computer network'.

In CB radio, and possibly Amateur (Ham) radio you could have a phone patch device which would interface between the radio transciever and the phone system. With two such gadgets you could bridge a gap in the PSTN. Not really legal with amateur radio as you were not supposed to compete with commercial services.

I am sure that emergency services used phone patches on their VHF radios, though. Some documentation on that might be of some use.

TFA talks about it being full duplex. The impression I have is that this system would have used one frequency and a VOX to switch between transmit and recieve. It is possible there were true full duplex systems though.

Re:Phone patches for radio? (2, Informative)

NfoCipher (161094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645191)

>In CB radio, and possibly Amateur (Ham)
You've got that reversed.

>Not really legal with amateur radio as you were not supposed to compete with commercial services.
Autopatch [wikipedia.org] has been and still is "legal".

Re:Phone patches for radio? (3, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645461)

Not over the internet, or using intetnet protocol, so it's not VOIP.

(note to mods: I know I've posted this 3 times in reply to different people, but I maintain it's not redundant until people actually grok the concept and stop posting/modding up non VOIP references.)

Re:Phone patches for radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645995)

If you can convince the judge that "... ON THE INTERNETS!" is not novel when its been done before, then it's relevant.

Also, patent doesn't specify any particular protocol, only that it's full duplex and an "internet protocol". Also doesn't limit itself to THE INTERNET, they stated "public computer network" (like, say, public radiowaves, with computers running the show).

Re:Phone patches for radio? (1)

Maxwell (13985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646011)

Who ever said VOIP? The requirement is "over a public computer network". The internet was not the first public computer network. Did CompuServe ever allow voice calls? How about BBS's? Fido?

The patent is overly broad. So we are NOT stuck to "VOIP only" to break it...sheesh!!

JON

Re:Phone patches for radio? (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646027)

Not over the internet, or using intetnet protocol, so it's not VOIP

The actual patent [uspto.gov] says "internet OR computer network", although I give you that the claim indeed explicitly mentions "an internet protocol".

But note that the set of statements in a patent claim can be invalidated by a wider type of prior art. So a claim of using internet for some purpose is invalidated by prior art that does exactly the same thing on a computer network, since internet is just one type of computer network.

So if HAM radio can be considered a computer network, and someone connected HAM radio on both ends to regular phone lines, that would invalidate the patent. Unfortunately, unless it was packet radio (ethernet-like data transfer over radio), it wouldn't be a computer network.

Re:Phone patches for radio? (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645987)

KA9Q Packet radio was in existance before 1995. It would integrate with normal IP, and was used extensively in Brasil and several remote locations for TCP traffic. I wonder if anyone put a phone into the picture.

Re:Phone patches for radio? (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646461)

I know my best friend's father used Packet radio with his PC,
I was under the impression he somehow used it for free long distance.

Vocaltek? (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645027)

Didn't vocalteck do this?

Re:Vocaltek? (2, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645131)

Yes, the linked article says the EFF are specifically looking for proof that VocalTec or Net2Phone were doing this before 20th September 1995.

Re:Vocaltek? (2, Interesting)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645559)

The company I worked for (Automotive parts manufacturing) between Sept '95 and Jan '97 had a system where interstate (non-local) calls could be routed through their leased data lines. There was a dialling prefix for each endpoint node. The data lines were ordinarily used for warehouse inventory/stock control operations (I think it was a VAX/VMS system, so I'm not sure what networking protocols were used for these data links). This was introduced halfway through my period of employment there, and given the conservative nature of the company, I'd be surprised if this was a bleeding edge installation at the time. Obviously it would have been developed well before this implementation.

Re:Vocaltek? (2, Informative)

Spamalope (91802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646075)

We did that at Leasing Associates from roughly 1993 until early 2006 using Datarace (brand) equipment - voice, compressed and full duplex. Certainly voice as a sideband over whatever leased line you've got was very common before 1995. All of the mux manufacturers had equipment to do it. The datarace equipment could route TCP/IP, but the equipment encapsulated each type of traffic and sent it to the other mux via a proprietary protocol to the other mux.

There were ISDN router boxes touted around that time as being able to route voice and data at the same time, using small packets, compression, and QOS to keep the voice from breaking up. The setups I remember were analog->voip->analog though, and were used to tie corporate phone systems.

It sound like this is a patent on existing packet switched voice tech, but specifying which devices the endpoints would be and what the transport protocol would be. Private PC->voip-PC was common, and private analog->voip->analog was common. There were regulatory barriers to doing PC->voip->analog AND tying into the PSTN (public phone system). Privately our 1993 system allow a branch office to press a one button extension on their phone, get a dial tone from the corp. office phone system, and make any call they wanted to. It just wasn't done with TCP/IP because other protocols are much more efficient.

Re:Vocaltek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645181)

vovaltech?

how is a computer network different from a 1990's modern phone network

Here's the oldest reference I got (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645029)

The way it was described in the blurb, I guess the oldest implementation is mentioned here. [wikipedia.org]

Sorry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645055)

I can only offer a prior fart.

Maybe they have the answer themselves (4, Funny)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645061)

Maybe EFF already has the answer [eff.org] , depending on how long AT&T is routing all phone calls through NSA network. They would even kill two birds with one shot, the subpoena to obligate AT&T to disclose the info could come from the patent suit. It's a win-win! What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

snoggeramus (945056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645091)

Prior art is now denied for reasons of national security.

Mod parent anything but insightful, it's funny (2)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645261)

Come on, people don't recognize humor when they see it anymore? Next time I'll be telling that Microsoft has given up zune and will pay people to use it and I will be modded informative. Hmmm, wait!

Re:Maybe they have the answer themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646435)

ohphone http://www.openh323.org/ [openh323.org]

VOIP Prior Art (5, Interesting)

azrider (918631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645087)

Not sure if it was patented, but in the 70's when I worked for IBM, all office extensions worldwide went through the "tie-line". This was a linkup that used the massive IBM internal global network to make calls, i.e. I call Tokyo from LA and the call never touches the PSTN apparatus. Indeed, it never left the building on anything other than data lines. The phones at the desks were plain old analog WE2500 sets.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

Melkman (82959) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645115)

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645527)

Valid prior art would be some form of H.323 to PSTN gateway (called a H.323 Gatekeeper), or maybe any sort of way to bridge PSTN with IP.

FWIW, Cisco's IOS v11.3 [wikipedia.org] implemented this functionality, which puts it around 1999 [cisco.com]

The PDF to the H.323 standard is at http://www.itu.int/rec/dologin_pub.asp?lang=e&id=T -REC-H.323-200606-I!!PDF-E&type=items [itu.int] but I believe it was finalised in 1996, which puts it a bit too late. I think we'd need to be looking at SS7 Gateways to bust this patent.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18647183)

I knew someone who was an employee of AT&T who was involved in the first VOIP call using a Sonus media gateway. Since Sonus was founded in 1997 I doubt that this occured prior to 1995.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645139)

it doesn't have to be patented, just published or described somewhere.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (0)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645151)

Unless IBM were using internet protocol (the IP in VOIP) a decade before the internet started, then that's probably not prior art.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645317)

OTOH if you can send voice as data, then sending arbitrary data over the internet is, to use the technical term, "Blindingly obvious" to anyone adequately skilled in the art.

Otherwise, I claim keeping text in a computer file.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645403)

Prior art (which kills your 'text in a computer file' patent) is the easiest way of dealing with these patent trolls. While "it's blindingly obvious" is technically a valid reason to get patents struck down, it's tough to make such historical a value judgement stick in court, dealing with facts is what coursts are best at. Otherwise it either ends up in the old whoever has the most lawyers wins situation, or worse the transcript reads like this:

EFF: "Your Honour, this idea is obvious, you'd have to be a blithering idiot not to have thought of this"
Judge: "Well I didn't think of it!"
EFF: "That's because your are a blith.... erm..."
Defence: "We move that the case be struck down"
Judge: "Case dismissed with prejudice!"

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645939)

WRT sending voice as data, the incumbent carriers have been doing it that way for the past thirty years.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (4, Informative)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645537)

Sorry, if the IBM system never touches PSTN as you describe, then this fails part 4 of the EFF's list of features the prior art needs to have:

From the EFF site: CRITICAL FEATURES OF PRIOR ART NEEDED:

      1. The system must have the ability to connect an audio telephone call from a calling party to a receiving party.
      2. The telephone call must be "full duplex," meaning that both parties must be able to talk and listen at the same time. For example, regular telephone calls usually are full duplex, whereas walkie-talkie conversations in which a person cannot receive transmissions from others while he or she is transmitting generally are not.
      3. An ordinary telephone and telephone line are the only equipment the receiving party needs to have. The receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection to receive the call.
      4. The transmission of the call is routed in part through a "public computer network" and in part through the PSTN. This implies that the transmission must cross at least one gateway between the "public computer network" and the PSTN. The Internet is one example of a "public computer network," but the patent does not define what else would qualify as a "public computer network."

Additional Features:

      1. The caller must only have to dial the destination number and no additional phone numbers

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

Mordaximus (566304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645545)

It wasn't over 'data lines'. Tie lines connect one PBX directly to another. This can be done privately, but are usually done via a (or many) carriers. The trunks that carried voice were not data trunks. It's not prior art.

Re:VOIP Prior Art (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18647025)

Er, who did you think provided those "tie lines"? AT&T, Centel, and all the other public phone companies. And once the calls reached the CO, they were routed over the PSTN just like every other call. If you think IBM created their own facilities, you're deluded.

Enough with the trivial shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645123)

There's going to be a lot of existing products that violate some asshole's patent without there being prior art because everybody thought that it would be a while before the obvious idea would become practical. The internet transports digital data in a best-effort manner that is good enough for (soft) realtime applications. Audio data can be digitized just like practically all other data. Using existing phones as microphone/speaker combination is a matter of adapting the voltages. Duplex is the same as two simplex connections. It is immediately apparent that internet telephony is possible. The hard part isn't thinking it up but implementing it and timing it right so that the cost/value ratio is favorable.

Prior art should NOT be the problem. (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645125)

This is ridiculous. All this patent covers is bridging between the Internet and POTS networks. It shouldn't need "prior art" to be struck down, it should be struck down merely because it's fucking obvious! I mean, it'd be one thing if it were a patent on one particular clever method of connecting the two networks, but the idea in general should not have been patentable in the first place.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645345)

All this patent covers is bridging between the Internet and POTS networks. It shouldn't need "prior art" to be struck down, it should be struck down merely because it's fucking obvious!

I don't think it does count as that obvious. If you remember the earliest days of free internet telephony, the biggest limitation (aside from the annoying lag) came from needing both parties to have a computer with an always-on connection (or risk missing calls).

Companies like Vonage exist to make a free service un-free solely because they act as a POTS bridge. Think about that. People will pay for something free (well, "free" presuming you would have intenet access anyway) because that one little "fucking obvious" step counts as such a massive leap forward in functionality.



The USPTO has made some phenomenally bad calls in the past, but I don't know if I can really disagree with this one.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645437)

POTS bridge

That's a non-free service because using the POTS is not free. People don't pay for the little "fucking obvious" step, they pay to use the telephone companies' networks. But you can buy telephone adapters for VOIP and use them for pure internet telephony without monthly or per-minute charges. Communication between VoIP users of the same service, and increasingly often also between users of different VoIP services, is free precisely because the non-free POTS is not used for these calls. And yes, internet telephony with phones instead of headsets was fucking obvious back then, just not ready for prime-time with the expensive and slow network access. It really is a case of replacing one form of transport with another form of transport that is obviously capable of acting as a replacement. Digital phone networks are older than this patent. The only difference is that the internet is a public network without QoS guarantees (but good enough performance to make up for it).

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645999)

Actually, you're missing the point. The original post mentions "processes that implement voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) using analog phones as endpoints." It doesn't say anything about starting points (which, when coming from a computer, obviously has to be turned on!, and if being received by an analog phone, it obviously has to be plugged into the POTS system. ). Net2phone (from the wayback machine archive) mentions computer to analog phone calls in Feb., 1997, which precedes the date requested.

As to obviousness, plugging something into one digital network, and getting it out to another digital network is obviously desirable. That's why artisoft lantastic, IBM token ring, netware, and tcp/ip were bridged together in some offices. How to do the implementation may not necessarily be obvious, but connecting the various networks is.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646691)

The limitation of early internet telephony was never technical, it was simply that no one had figured out the business model and managed to acquire the funding to set up the business. Once the funding was secured, they simply had to pay any competent network software developer to get the thing done, no genius required.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645349)

I hate to break it to you but this is not how obviousness works. Even if it did, how obvious was this in 1995? Also, do not think this patent had an easy life. If it took 6 years to get this patent, it probably went through hell and a few revisions before it went out the door. Also, do not rely on the EFF documents were are overly broad and stupid. They actually read more like a bad patent then the "bad patent". Of course the EFF, is hoping to drive its membership and money collections by using their typical tactics.

I love what the EFF tries to do, but sometimes they come off as another crazy non-profit who just wants to stick it to the man. (See Greenpeace, PETA, and the ACLU for examples)

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (1)

Tarinth (1038652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645873)

Patents can be busted by proving "obviousness" as well, and I imagine that EFF will try that in parallel. However, to have the best chance of success they'll want to attack every aspect of the patent which would include demonstrating that others had done so earlier.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646175)

The "fucking obvious" problem is that you need a number to call to/from, and that number is not an IP address. The technical aspect of VoIP companies is trivial, just convert the sound to digital and ship it off to its destination... but the way things are today, you still need a POTS at the receiving end if they don't have VoIP. That's not technically difficult, it just requires money to rent the landlines from Ma Bell. VoIP "carriers" oversell landlines much like ISPs oversell bandwidth or modem banks, because not everyone uses everything all the time.

If all your friends and relatives, employers, partners, and local businesses were on VoIP, we wouldn't need the gateway because the PSTN would be obsolete. We're not there yet, and I don't think we'll ever be, not in my lifetime, because computers are unreliable. Even the standalone VoIP gateways are just embedded computers running outsourced software, they crap out every once in a while. The day they crap out on an emergency call is the day it will all come crashing down. The phone companies may be the axis of evil, but they usually provide quite dependable service, something the internet still hasn't mastered.

Re:Prior art should NOT be the problem. (2, Interesting)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646409)

The problem isn't the *obvious* issue. I mean, it wasn't obvious to me in 1995, or most other people I'd wager. The problem is the scope of the patent. No one should be able to patent "processes that implement voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) using analog phones as endpoints." It is way to broad. Acceris should hold a patent on A SINGLE process to implement VoIP. You shouldn't be able to patent an end result, just the specific way you used to get there. Patents like this make clean room reverse engineering, work arounds, and competing methods all illegal without the patent holder's permission.

Artisoft LANtastic could do this (5, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645129)

How about this link: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1161458,00.as p [pcmag.com]

It describes a voice adapter for Artisoft LANTastic in 1990. I used to operate a LANtastic network but didn't use the voice adapters. However, it seems to fit the 'prior art(isoft)' requirement ;-)

Re:Artisoft LANtastic could do this (2, Insightful)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645849)

Interesting, but from the way this product is described, its LAN use only, which means that it does not connect to a public network, and it does not seem to connect at some point to the public phone network, which means it canot be used in this case

Re:Artisoft LANtastic could do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646413)

Yes, but it makes connecting *any network* to POTS obviouis. The internet is a set of LANs contencted together, more or less. Prior Art does not need to be pixel perfect match. I just needs to show that the patent is obvious for someone skilled in the Art.

Graham Article (5, Interesting)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645173)

I'm not sure if this qualifies, since the article wasn't written until 2005, but Paul Graham mentions in one of this articles that a friend of his wrote some VoIP software in 1994. The article is available online [paulgraham.com] .

In 1994 my friend Koling wanted to talk to his girlfriend in Taiwan, and to save long-distance bills he wrote some software that would convert sound to data packets that could be sent over the Internet. We weren't sure at the time whether this was a proper use of the Internet, which was still then a quasi-government entity. What he was doing is now called VoIP, and it is a huge and rapidly growing business.

Re:Graham Article (2, Informative)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645683)

But did it involve using the PSTN at both ends? Just computer to computer via is acknowledged by the patent as prior art; the central point of novelty is the use of plain telephone sets at both ends communicating with each respective CO; that is regular duplex telephone traffic routed to a local service that converts both ends to/from a connection over IP to a similar remote service that converts back to an appropriate duplex analog telephone traffic to the remote party's analog telephone.

Re:Graham Article (1)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645755)

I've no idea, past what is quoted above, but I somehow doubt it. Thanks for clearing me up on exactly what they're looking for.

Another example of prior art (1)

synoniem (512936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645193)

Not sure about the actual year, 1990 or 1989 we were offered a new pbx that could divert calls over a permanent data line to all our offices (six at that time). Each call digitized to a 8Kb stream. This were technology from AT&T and Alcatel afaik and used normal analog phones.

Re:Another example of prior art (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645805)

I work for a while at a sub of Alcatel in the late eighties in Europe. PBXs were definitely being connected over a LAN (at 10MB/s) and generally sharing traffic with IP and DDCMP. The end-users had either analog telephones or early generation ISDN phones. I know that Nortel were doing similar stuff as were Bosch and Siemens. By the mid nineties, most digital switches chatted using IP.

Break Stupid Laws (3, Interesting)

essence (812715) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645201)

Not sure if this would work, it would probably just end up in people getting sued bigtime, but what if there was a 'class action' of sorts, where a whole heap, and I mean heap, of people/companies used patented ideas, and basically told the patent office and the patent holders to get fucked. It would take co-ordination, but done on a mass scale, the point could be made, and the patent system reformed.

Re:Break Stupid Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645299)

You first... we're all right behind you :)

Re:Break Stupid Laws (1)

ferd_farkle (208662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645799)

'Not sure if this would work, it would probably just end up in people getting sued bigtime'

Are you an unemployed lawyer, by any chance?

slavast talit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645207)

Recommend at chad@chadfowler.com

ISDN (1)

HRogge (973545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645259)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISDN [wikipedia.org] It's digital communication over a computer network. Has been an ITU standard since 1980. Case closed, have a nice day.

Re:ISDN (2, Funny)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645305)

Yes, if wikipedia says it, it's so. Case closed, indeed.

Re:ISDN (0)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645337)

ISDN does not use Internet Protocol, so it's not VOIP. Everyone seems to be missing the fact that this patent is of the type "[existing idea] but on the internet". Prior art to bust it needs to have routed the call over a public network such as internet, not just any digital and/or private line.

Re:ISDN (2, Interesting)

synoniem (512936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645405)

What is the difference between a connection over a X25 network and "the internet"? Especially in the early days of internet X25 networks were used a lot.

Re:ISDN (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645865)

You made a very good point on X.25. The switch manufacturers used it for intercommunication but the important thing was that it was switches, i.e., you stuffed whatever in the packet, be it data or voice and then you put a destination address on the call and it could be routed through a network whether public or private. X.25 was just one low level protocol that was used to setup a point to point connection over a switched network.

Re:ISDN (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646447)

ISDN (at least, the bearer channels) do not run over X.25.

Not necessarily (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645411)

Everyone seems to be missing the fact that this patent is of the type "[existing idea] but on the internet".

Their claim seems to be broader than just "Internet Protocol" -- which is part of what EFF objects to: the breadth of the claim.

From the summary and TFA:

Specifically, the claims describe a system that connects two parties where the receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection, but the call is routed in part through the Internet or any other 'public computer network'.

So, the Integrated Services Digital Network would fit that description.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645779)

"So, the Integrated Services Digital Network would fit that description."

Didja ever have ISDN service? It went like this:

1) Call the phone company and order an ISDN line.

That's not a public computer network. It's all going through the phone company.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645847)

Didja ever have ISDN service? It went like this:

1) Call the phone company and order an ISDN line.

That's not a public computer network. It's all going through the phone company.

Okay. What's the procedure for getting Internet service?

Re:Not necessarily (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645857)

No it wouldn't. The internet is a packet-switched network designed for computers. ISDN is a circuit-switched network designed to carry calls. They are very different.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646017)

The internet is a packet-switched network designed for computers. ISDN is a circuit-switched network designed to carry calls. They are very different.

ISDN is packet-switched, and is designed to carry multiple types of data, not just calls. All data is carried by asynchronous "cells", as they are called by the guys with bell-shaped-heads. Each cell has a header, with routing information, and a payload of data. Yes, I've seen the Wikipedia article that claims otherwise.

Re:Not necessarily (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18647125)

Hmmm, I have to agree with the wiki article as I worked on ISDN and SS#7 switches and gateways for five years. Haven't poked around inside the depths of an ISDN stack I can tell you that it is definitely a circuit-switched network in the manner that the wiki describes. Are you perhaps thinking of something else?

Re:ISDN (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645499)

So if one alters and renames the tcp/ip stack optimizing it for VoIP traffic can avoid this patent and be granted one because the enhanced tcp/ip stack is not tcp/ip anymore just as tcp/ip is different from the isdn network stack. No change to the network infrastructure level, just one more kernel module for *nixes. Could be worse.

Or one could encapsulate ISDN over tcp/ip.

Patents are a way to make life miserable.

I have an old Russian book, dated 1986 (3, Interesting)

WetCat (558132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645357)

Samoilenko S.I "Seti EVM" (Computer Networks), Moscow, Nauka, 1986

which describes Adaptive Communication (connecting voice phones using packet switching).
This book also referencing
Bellamy J.C. Digital Telephony. John Wiley and Sons, 1982

May be something can be found in that book too?

Electronic Cafe ISDN jams (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645361)

Two refs here.

http://ecafe.com/nye96.html [ecafe.com] : Electronic Cafe Telebrations (see the rest of ecafe site). The Electronic Cafe was a pioneer in using ISDN modems with special synching to allow music jams with remotely based musicians, piping video and audio into cafe club spaces.

Also, Google: electronic cafe isdn history
This event happened in May, before the September date specified.
http://www.usc.edu/dept/dance/p9a_earlier_seasons. html [usc.edu]

1994-95 Revisited
Zapped Taps(tm)/Alfred Desio Performed in 4 Cities Live
On Saturday, May 20, 1995, Zapped Taps(tm)/Alfred Desio , performed live at the Electronic Cafe in Santa Monica, at the Dairy Center for the Arts in conjunction with the Boulder Creek Festival in Boulder Colorado, at the World Trade Center in New York, and at the Electronic Cafe in Austin Texas. This was possible because of a ISDN wide band hook up. For Alfred Desio, based in Los Angeles, this began with a phone call from Dorinda Dercar, a tapper now residing in Boulder. She wanted the secret of how Desio creates electronic tap sounds, which she had first heard and seen in the film Tap, for which Alfred Desio was the consultant whose technology made it happen. After many calls and faxes, the two performed an interactive duet, she in Boulder and he in Santa Monica. Other artists on the program included Edwin Torres and Virtual Presence in New York, and music and comedy combining forces from the four cities.

LA C & D and Youth Activities
Even with these exciting technology events, a primary focus last season was still the special programs developed for the schools by both Louise Reichlin & Dancers and Zapped Taps/Alfred Desio. Reichlin's group added several weeks in Ventura and Orange County in addition to forty-one schools in the LA Unified, ranging from north in Sylmar to south in San Pedro in a season running from July 31, 1994 to June 7, 1995. Performances in schools are ones we will always strive to maintain. No advanced computer project can ever match the inspiration that springs from both sides of the footlights during our interactive programs that include repertory of four of our dances interspersed with audience participation so the students begin to understand that dance is something they can do and use in their own lives. That same season Alfred also spent two weeks in small towns in central California with a new school program using his Zapped Taps pulling together both dance and science in his approach.

For information about these pages please contact Louise Reichlin at louisehr@usc.edu or call (213)385-1171.

Return to Southern California Dance and Directory (home page)

Re:Electronic Cafe ISDN jams (-1, Offtopic)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645435)

Not full duplex, not 'over the internet' so it's not VOIP.

Re:Electronic Cafe ISDN jams (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645483)

Are you sure it wasn't full duplex?

Both musicians could hear both sides I thought.

Re:Electronic Cafe ISDN jams (1)

Cyphertube (62291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645663)

Public networks are the issue, not the Internet. So, it doesn't f*cking matter. Do you work for Verizon or something? You have posted all over the place with the same stupid argument. Yeah, it doesn't work if it is a PRIVATE network, but if it is a PUBLIC network, then so be it.

Hence, any system that used two phones and then sent the data across a public network, ostensbily in digital format, would work.

NVP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645613)

I once read about something called NVP for Network Voice Protocol, which was to be something similar to Softphones, only it was to work via the ARPANET. There even is an RFC describing it, RFC741 from 1977. The first implementation appears to date back to 1973. But I cannot see anything in the RFC about briding to ordinary phone networks.

Somebody please .... (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645633)

Can somebody please delete the American patent system. Having no patent system is better the current horror system.

Neuromancer as Prior Art? (1)

Hey_bob (6104) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645653)

I don't know if sci-fi writings would be prior art.. (it has also been a few years since I've read it)

Didn't Wintermute ring a number of phones, in a bank of pay phones, as Chase walked past it? Later it spoke with the characters over the phone several times, calls that originated from the 'internet' to a land-line.

Could the fictional realm of the 'matrix' in Neuromancer be considered akin to the internet? Wikipedia claims: "In Neuromancer Gibson first used the term 'the matrix' in reference to the visualized internet."

Since I quoted wikipedia, I suspect my credibility is gone. :-P

Heinlein (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645763)

In Robert A. Heinlein's book, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", a computer is given several digital voice circuits which are connected to the telephone system.

Re:Neuromancer as Prior Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645765)

I thought of that, but careful reading of the passage shows no evidence that Wintermute's calls were routed over a public network. Indeed, the word 'network' never appears in Neuromancer.

Re:Neuromancer as Prior Art? (1)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646951)

I don't know if sci-fi writings would be prior art.. (it has also been a few years since I've read it)

To a limited degree. The purpose of prior art is to show that the "CONCEPT" of an idea existed prior to the pantent. If I write about a process or product first, it is hard for someone else to claim the invention of it.

As an example, Heinlien's Waldo was the first mention of waterbeds (or the concept thereof), and so is prior art for any patent on them.

Also, prior art does NOT have contain EVERY concept of the patent claims, it just helps. If you can prove that it is an obvious step from the prior art to the patented idea/process, then you can get the patent rejected.

BWP

Autovon and DSN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18645661)

Wasn't Autovon and later DSN (Defense Switched Network) doing this in full duplex long before 1995?

phone companies (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645781)

Haven't phone companies been running phone calls over digital networks for ages? That involves switches that are able to perform the conversion, and run the lines full-duplex. The fact that there are two conversions, analogdigitalanalog, shouldn't matter patent-wise; you're actually still performing both conversions, only one's been moved to a local device.

Only solution (2, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18647075)

> Haven't phone companies been running phone calls over digital networks for ages?

Yes they have, and in a sane world that would in itself have ended the discussion at the USPTO. Since the first telco stuff was crude circuit switched equipment a better example would be ATM, which also easily predates the patent. But apparently the USPTO and the courts are still allowing a fresh patent for doing ordinary old things by simply adding "over the Internet" to them. We seriously need a law of one single paragraph:

"No patent may be issued or upheld if the only thing unique about it is that it extending an existing practice to the Internet. This is one of the designed purposes for the Internet; using something for it's designed purpose is NOT original or difficult for one skilled in the art so knock it off you idiots. This law is intended both as an order to the USPTO and binding guidance for the Judicary."

Simon Hackett's Etherphone? (2, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645845)

I wonder if Simon Hackett's Etherphone qualifies? He was running voice calls over raw Ethernet packets back in 1992. He wrote up a white paper which was distributed at Interop that year.

Verizon really pulled out all the stops (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645907)

This one has a certain malodorous streak to it. Somehow I can see Verizon as one of the chief investors in North Central Equity which owns Acceris.

The attacks on VoIP are getting more and more vicious by the day and I'm glad the EFF is stepping into the fray.

Early VoIP work (1)

leonia (246522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18645915)

http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~hgs/rtp/history.html [columbia.edu] lists early VoIP and voice-over-packet work, dating back into the 1970s. The closest is probably the ITU G.764 standard, which describes packet transmission to interconnect voice systems. These were typically used for trans-oceanic links, to save bandwidth.

voip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646045)

I know that Dr. Renaldo Valenzuela did experiments at both Bell labs and the Rutgers WINLAB for voice over ethernet, then extended that work to TCP/IP, back around 1993-1995.

Also:
Larry Press, Net.Speech: desktop audio comes to the net, Communications of the ACM, v.38 n.10, p.25-31, Oct. 1995

H. Schulzrinne, Voice communication across the Internet: a network voice terminal, Technical Report TR-92-50, Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts at Amherst (July 1992).

years ago (1)

Apoklypse (853837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646087)

I had an old circa 1992? Pentium 90 Toshiba Tecra 510? I think which had communications software from (I believe) zero1Communique and I used to use this lappie as my telephone over the modem, through the built in speakers and microphone to call longdistance, also as my telnet through the bbs and usegroups ...

A new patent by replacing "private" by "public" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646115)

As far as I know my countries TelCo (KPN in the Netherlands) switched from pure audio to digital audio (for communication between their centers) many years ago, and I'm pretty sure that those devices routing the data-packets could be considered computers.

Allso, a definition as a "computer network" is very broad in itself. As the first poster remarked, even HAM-radio could be considered as such.

By the way : is it still allowed to file for a patent that has not got to show anything tangable for itself, and is fully based upon patents of others (even trying to encompass/absorbe it) ?

Infonet used to have it (1)

BanjoBob (686644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646129)

Infonet Services Corp (now BTInfonet) used to offer a product that did this some 10 years ago. The application resided on your PC but enabled calls to analog telephones pretty much anywhere. Infonet is a global network provider and their networks covered Asia, Europe, the Americas and who knows what all. This enabled them to use their private data networks for a variety of services that were immune from the Internet.

Telecom 95 in Genève (2, Interesting)

dybdahl (80720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646137)

I attended the Telecom 95 exhibition in Genève, and I still remember how the news went around, that the finnish telephone backbone would be expanded using IP-capable equipment, to carry both internet traffic and telephone calls. This seemed very logical at that time, for those who knew about TCP/IP. I cannot believe that such huge investments in using the IP protocol for telephone traffic was made, unless the decision makers had seen internet telephony work. This means, that there is prior art somewhere.

I suggest that you look into the PR messages released at the Telecom 95 exhibition, and then do some research on those that cover telephony over TCP/IP.

The patent system is broken (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646143)

or there would be no need for the prior art to begin with. Patenting VoIP is patenting an idea, and a rather obvious one at that. There are some folks who moan about an ambulance chasing tort lawyer gaming the legal system on behalf of some loser just because a doctor removed the wrong kidney, but are oblivious to intellectual property lawyers playing a broken regime to share monopoly rents with huge corporations.

Gross Bogosity in Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646181)

If they are able to uphold this patent, then nothing would stop someone (as an example) from patenting drinking glasses: a receptacle that accepts fluid, distributed from a container that otherwise holds bulk fluid.

Come on Patent people. It's time to put a stop to this absurdity; everyone trying to cash in on the most benign of things. Patents should ONLY be awarded to truly original and authentic designs and concepts.

How much more of this bullcrap do we have to deal with before they'll do something about it.

Re:Gross Bogosity in Patents (1)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646899)

It's designed that way. The USPTO delivers as many patents as possible because invention is slow in the Real World. That obviously does not work when you're building to and from abstracting ideas pretty much exclusively.
You should go read up rms' papers some time.

TeamSpeak/Ventrillo? (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646245)

I'm not sure of this but wouldn't TeamSpeak and Ventrillo count as Prior Art? I know that I was using TeamSpeak 2.0 3 or 4 years ago so it's initial release date must have been a while before that, and both programs transmit voice data over the internet. Sure, they're not phone programs, but they are VoIP aren't they?

Mobile Subscriber Equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646377)

I think this is what you are looking for:

Mobile Subscriber Equipment - its a military communications system. That uses digital links to provide data/voice. The signal is actually digitized in the phone (MSRT) however but travels over an IP network. For further reference: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/pol icy/army/fm/11-43/index.html [globalsecurity.org]
If it's applicable, the dates of its creations certainly would place it in the realm of prior art.

The Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) forms a network that covers an area occupied by unit subscribers. A typical grid is made up of four to six centralized Node centers which make up the hub or backbone of the network. Throughout the maneuver area, subscribers connect to local call switching centers by radio or wire. These switches, or extension nodes provide access to the network by connecting to the Node centers.

The MSE system provides communications in an area of up to 15,000 square miles. The system is digital, secure, highly flexible, and contains features that deal with link outages, traffic overload, and rapid movement of users. ...

Oct 79 Joint Operational Requirement approved. ...
Dec 85 Contract award (basic); Contract award (1st option). ...
Aug 90 MSE support of Operation Desert Shield began.

cell phones or fax? (1)

TheSlashaway (1032228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646533)

"Specifically, the claims describe a system that connects two parties where the receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection, but the call is routed in part through the Internet or any other 'public computer network'. The calls must also be 'full duplex', meaning that both parties can listen and talk at the same time, like in an ordinary phone call." How about cell phones? Full duplex and routed over a cellular network? Or Internet to fax service?

Re:cell phones or fax? (1)

bovinewasteproduct (514128) | more than 7 years ago | (#18647057)

"Specifically, the claims describe a system that connects two parties where the receiving party does not need to have a computer or an Internet connection, but the call is routed in part through the Internet or any other 'public computer network'. The calls must also be 'full duplex', meaning that both parties can listen and talk at the same time, like in an ordinary phone call." How about cell phones? Full duplex and routed over a cellular network? Or Internet to fax service?

A companies cell network would not be a "Public network" and as far as I know, ATM networks do not use Internet Protocols nativly. Were there any Internet to fax services prior to September 1995?

What I want to know, is how an application filed in 1995 and not modified (as far as I can tell), can mention prior art/patents from 1998? Where is the modification history?

BWP

Etherphone (1)

dlleigh (313922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646679)

Xerox PARC in the 1980s. This may have been done at the raw ethernet level, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did work at the IP layer as well.

PSTN toll bypass for fax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646849)

A Massachusetts company called Netcentric developed a suite of Internet to Fax products called FaxStorm in 1995 (you can tell they were an early company because they were able to grab such a good name). On one of them, you send a document to their servers via email; it would route the document to one of its worldwide POPs closest to the destination, which was a gateway to the local PSTN. The toll savings could be significant. So the use of the Internet for PSTN toll bypass preceded the patent filing.

They've since been bought out or gone defunct. I didn't work there so I don't have details.

The obvious prior art is... (2, Informative)

freebase (83667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18646947)

The existing Public Switched Telephone network.

I've not read the patent, but if the claim is really as broad as indicated, it would seem to include the PSTN currently used for 'analog' calls.

The PSTN, by definition a Public Network, is made up of analog access lines connection analog 'terminals' - your phones - to what's known as a Class 5 switch. Class 5 switches are connected together at what's known as a Tandem, providing connectivity between all the users within an area. Access to the long distance network is via a connection to a Class 4 switch, usually at the tandem, but not always. Class 4 switches are interconnected (internetworked??) with other switches, and eventually a sufficient network is formed that allows you to call anyone with a phone.

The Switches (Class 5, Class 4, etc) used in this network are very much computers, and have been for quite some time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5ESS_switch [wikipedia.org] .

The analog to digital conversion used to be done in the CO itself, and sometimes still is, but usually it's done at the Digital Loop Carrier (DLC) closest to the customer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_loop_carrier [wikipedia.org] .

This network even has its own routing and control protocol, SS7 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS7 [wikipedia.org] .

Plainly, the only thing really new about VoIP is that it abtracts the physical transport and allows the control plane traffic to be transmitted on the same path as the bearer plane traffic.

PGP Phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18646993)

What about zimmerman's pgp phone? I remember looking at it *about* that time period, but my memory is pretty fuzzy going back a decade. Archive.org turns up references to it as early as 9/96, and that's version 1.0beta (http://web.archive.org/web/19961224033201/http:// web.mit.edu/network/pgpfone/)

Mr. Zimmerman, if you read--can you confirm the date the product was first written? I'd be wagering version 0.1a if it existed was written or described somewhere earlier...

very early arpanet voip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18647027)

In the mid 1980's there was a company in Santa Barbara, Advanced Computer Communications, which was involved with the Arpanet and later Internet. Some of the founders were the original writers of TCPIP. I worked on a project that was delivered to the NSA to allow secure telepones to communicate anywhere in the world via packetized voice. The project was derived from earlier ATT work in a proto lab in the early 80's. I would say that VOIP has prior art going back nearly 30 years.
The founder of that company was a fellow named Roland Bryan who is still in a small business there.
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