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Vonage Wins Permanent Stay in Verizon Case

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the huge-sigh dept.

The Courts 104

kamikaze-Tech writes "The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC today issued Vonage a permanent stay of a previous court's injunction that would have barred it from signing up new customers. Vonage sought the stay following an April 6th decision by the US District Court in Alexandria, VA enjoining the company from using certain VoIP technology to add new customers."

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Good! (3, Insightful)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860491)

Here's to hoping everything goes well throughout the rest of the appeals process.

Re:Good! (2, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862201)

What is there to appeal against? "The patents system is fucking retarded and you should throw the case out on principle"?

Re:Good! (2, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863099)

What is there to appeal against? "The patents system is fucking retarded and you should throw the case out on principle"?
No. Both the structure of Congress, our electoral system, and the absurd extremes of the 1st and 2nd amendment prove that "fucking retarted" doesn't disqualify a law.

I'd go with the simple "that patent is invalid" argument, and if that doesn't work a "they're a monopoly and should be made to license that patent for a court-determined cost" argument.

Re:Good! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863729)

Dude, they have everything you want in Canada.

Re:Good! (2, Interesting)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864339)

as much as I hate to say it, monopolies arent illegal. monopolistic practices are. The government has no right and would set a far worse precedent enforing licensing by a court determined cost. That would be the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen. Next thing you know based on that precedent judges through the land will be licensing patents for people against their will without their knowledge for whatever price they determine. A patent most fundamentally grants you the right to determine the fate usage and licensing of your patent. You have every right to refuse to license it to people whether or not you plan on doing any with it.

to be honest im surprised big oil hasnt teamed up with the auto industry to patent everything under the sun involving electric cars and then refuse to license it to anyone so that they can continue to avoid the electric car thing (watch 'who killed the electric car')

I really hate patent trolls, and I really side on vonage with this whole thing... but irregardless you cant just say fuck it they have all the control make them license everything.... and sadly the folks it will end up hurting the most is the FOSS community.. now commercial groups will have the means to forcibly pay for license to profit off Open source development.

the one and only problem here is the flock of moronic idiots who are in control of the USPTO... which reminds me, I wonder if they are hiring, it would probably be fun to do nothing and grant patents simply because i felt like it.

Re:Good! (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865031)

As much as I hate to say it, monopolies arent illegal. monopolistic practices are. The government has no right and would set a far worse precedent enforing licensing by a court determined cost. That would be the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen.

As opposed to what, letting the monopoly (Verizon, in this case) shut down what little competition it has via patents? That's the very essence of "monopolistic practices". So enforcing licensing by a court order is exactly what is needed here, if the patent is deemed valid.

A patent most fundamentally grants you the right to determine the fate usage and licensing of your patent. You have every right to refuse to license it to people whether or not you plan on doing any with it.

A patent exists to "promote the progress of the sciences and the useful arts". Patents are published precisely because they're intended to be used by others in order to advance the state of the art. Refusal to license a patent for a reasonable amount (enough to cover the development of the patent plus a bit of interest) shouldn't even be an option. That it is makes a mockery of the entire Constitutional reason patents exist at all.

Re:Good! (1)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865113)

I suck. The parent should read thusly:



As much as I hate to say it, monopolies arent illegal. monopolistic practices are. The government has no right and would set a far worse precedent enforing licensing by a court determined cost. That would be the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen.

As opposed to what, letting the monopoly (Verizon, in this case) shut down what little competition it has via patents? That's the very essence of "monopolistic practices". So enforcing licensing by a court order is exactly what is needed here, if the patent is deemed valid.

A patent most fundamentally grants you the right to determine the fate usage and licensing of your patent. You have every right to refuse to license it to people whether or not you plan on doing any with it.

A patent exists to "promote the progress of the sciences and the useful arts". Patents are published precisely because they're intended to be used by others in order to advance the state of the art. Refusal to license a patent for a reasonable amount (enough to cover the development of the patent plus a bit of interest) shouldn't even be an option. That it is makes a mockery of the entire Constitutional reason patents exist at all.

Re:Good! (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18872407)

"The government has no right and would set a far worse precedent enforing licensing by a court determined cost."

And, yet, the most recent Telecommunications Act did just such a thing. It forced providers to open their networks, set standard pricing for the use of those networks and created competition where none was existing.

I believe numerous lawsuits and new court rulings have castrated it, though, into something so impotent, that Viagra wouldn't help.

Vonage is likely saying.... (5, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860497)

..... Whoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo!

Re:Vonage is likely saying.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18861811)

Proof once again that /. has a loose definition of "funny"...

Re:Vonage is likely saying.... (1)

Lord Flipper (627481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865901)

..... Whoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo!

I hate the commercials too. But I've been a Vonage user since just about Day One, and they have been extremely cool with me. Even overseas (read Lahore) support. I don't like out-sourced support, either, but I cannot dismiss my own experience, based on my, or mob, prejudice. So, I am very happy that the 9th Circuit has injected at least a modicum of common sense into this situation. But... the 'whoo, hoo, hoo' thing? heheh.... no :)
-Regards,
Brian Stegner

verizon will do whatever it takes to win (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18860529)

i work for a CLEC in NH. Verizon continually changes the rules
on us to make our lives difficult. I hope vonage wins the day.

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860577)

e.g, please?

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (1)

banesong (640790) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860637)

CLEC: Competitive Local Exchange Carrier -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_local_exc hange_carrier [wikipedia.org]

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (1)

Pahroza (24427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861107)

I believe he was asking for an example of them changing the rules.

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863819)

Verizon asserts that CLECs in the Concord, Dover, and Salem wire centers are not impaired without access to DS-3 high capacity and dark fiber dedicated transport unbundled network elements (UNEs) between those wire centers and any New Hampshire wire centers designated as Tier 1 or Tier 2 wire centers.

great... just great... something we have always had...

What do you expect from a company run by Indians? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18861681)

I hope you don't expect them to play fair and respect the little guy.

OK, my opinion may be clouded by a couple of especially seedy Indians I recently dealt with and I have meat alot of decent Indians. The follwing does not apply to 'the good ones'.

Indian's just want to take advantage of you. This is just as true if you pay them for outsourceing or if they pay you for work.

Verizon has to be at least 50% H1-Bs. If you would like to know who is driving down tech wages look no further. Meanwhile these sleazebags are suing the real innovators so that they may better rape the consumer.

This type of thing only reinforces my racial hatred.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18862045)

This is not flamebait. What kind of tricky scheme are you running?

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (2, Interesting)

Shishak (12540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864899)

I OWN a CLEC in MA and Verizon does NOT change the rules on us. The rules are pretty straight forward, read 'The Act' and subsequent FCC TROs. The FCC DOES change the rules on occasion, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. The biggest problem is that the 2 largest voices against the RBOCS were AT&T & MCI. Those voices have been silenced.

The single most troubling word in 'The Act' is 'impaired'. The RBOCS must provide a service to a CLEC at Unbundled Network Element (UNE) pricing if the CLEC would be impaired without it. The definition of impaired has been strongly contested for the past 10 years. Am I impaired when I don't have access to fiber to homes & businesses? I say yes, Verizon says no. The FCC agrees with Verizon.

I'm hoping Congress gets their act together with the 'Telecomunications Act of 2006', Maybe we'll see it in 2008, maybe it will be better written. It is more than just network nuetrality but that a big part

Re:verizon will do whatever it takes to win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18868201)

Did the PUC present a few hoops for you to jump through too?

still could be screwed? (3, Interesting)

tedshultz (596089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860533)

This lets them sign up new customers, but they still could be screwed as far as the patent thing.

Re:still could be screwed? (5, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860635)

I have a hunch that Vonage will survive http://gigaom.com/2007/04/08/voip-patent-mess/ [gigaom.com] this article talks about how Verizon really shoudn't have the patents in the first place, and this might be a good argument in the appeals process.

Re:still could be screwed? (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18872843)

Whether or not Verizon should or shouldn't have the patent will have no bearing on the appeal process. The most Vonage could do with that is get a stay while the patent office reviews the patent; the court itself cannot throw the patent out, and MUST enforce it if the patent office says it's valid.

Ok, so now what? (4, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860543)

Wait for the patents to expire?

Re:Ok, so now what? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860613)

Wait for the patents to expire?


They continue the appeals process. If they win on appeal, Vonage continues doing business. If they exhaust all available appeals and lose, the injuction goes back into effect, Vonage can't sign up any more customers and eventually goes out of business, unless it gets bought out by Verizon.

As a very happy Vonage customer, I'm hoping they win.

Re:Ok, so now what? (3, Interesting)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862317)

I too hope Vonage triumphs. After all, the patents in question have already been clearly shown to be patents of existing art that was in the public domain. Lets go one further. If Vonage wins I say they should file an anti-trust suit against Verizon. Verizon is only going after Vonage because Verizon has lost 1/3 of their local loop business. Curiously they didn't go after the cable companies, or the other VoIP carriers. That makes it clear that they're trying to send a message. The worst part is, Verizon isn't really regulated anymore. They could do their own VoIP and they have, but the pricing is way out of line with what Vonage among others charges.

Re:Ok, so now what? (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863403)

As someone who despises both companies, I too hope Vonage prevails. It will be a sad day if the bigger player gets even more power. Underdog competition benefits the rest of us.

Re:Ok, so now what? (2, Informative)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863605)

If they were smart, they would be spending this time also working around the patents (if possible) so they could also survive an injunction. Of course, it may not matter. Vonage is hemmoraging cash at an unsustainable rate. They only have $550M in total assets ($500M in Cash and Short term investments) and they lost $120M last quarter alone.

Re:Ok, so now what? (1)

brianosaurus (48471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864931)

Its quite possible that Verizon's patent is very broadly stated, such that there is no way for Vonage to do VOIP and avoid infringement.

I don't know the facts in this case, but generally the claims of patents are made as far reaching as possible, so as to include not just the specific implementation of the invention, but any possible alternatives for accomplishing the same, or possibly even a very similar result.

Overly broad claims can be struck down without invalidating the entire patent, so perhaps Vonage can come up with a novel way to get around it, if it does hold.

I'm tired of IP laws being used for BS anti-competitive tactics. Technological progress should be making exponential leaps forward instead of being hampered by thugs holding ideas hostage.

Re:Ok, so now what? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18871899)

Its quite possible that Verizon's patent is very broadly stated, such that there is no way for Vonage to do VOIP and avoid infringement.

There are multiple examples of prior art, any of which should be sufficient to invalidate the Verizon patent.

Re:Ok, so now what? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865669)

Not to be a backseat CEO, but their marketing budget is obscene. I understand the need to get new customers and offset churn, but my god, don't blow all the cash doing it.

Re:Ok, so now what? (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861391)

Well... 15 years ain't that long.

Hopefully, mankind in the next few years will patent every obvious idea possible so that by 2030 we can get back to actually inventing real non-obvious inventions.

Re:Ok, so now what? (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862033)

With the way things are going in the u.s. and how the future of the u.s. economy depends on IP, there will probably be an extension to the life of patents in short order. Someone will introduce a bill in congress, at 4:00 AM, extending the life of patents to 55 years, no debate.. the house is adjourned.

Not so fast on that 'huge sigh' (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860549)

The stay is granted until the appeals process is concluded. IOW, if Vonage loses in the appeals process, of course, the District Court's injuction goes back into effect.

It ain't over 'til it's over.

Re:Not so fast on that 'huge sigh' (3, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860607)

Very true, but it gives them time to try and get around the patents in question. So while I suspect the folks at Vonage corporate are happy, the tech staff is probably not popping champagne corks just yet.

Re:Not so fast on that 'huge sigh' (3, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862347)

Very true, but it gives them time to try and get around the patents in question.

They can't work around them. The patents basically cover converting an IP address to a phone number [american.com] and visa versa. It's impossible to connect VoIP to the phone network without doing this. Unless or until the patents are determined to be invalid Verizon owns VoIP and can shut down any company that ties VoIP to the phone network.

Corperate America wins again (3, Insightful)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860573)

Somehow i doubt this case will result in a large portion of the Patent laws being repealed. Vonnage will look at its cost/risk analysis and decide that paying royalties to Verizon is much better then facing the risk of losing their business. A settlement will be reached behind closed door. All this posturing is merely a game of trying to reach the minimum amount of royalties they have to incur. Two large corporations fighting each other will not result in more freedom for the rest of us. The patent business is to profitable to jeopardize by bringing an argument to court.

Re:Corperate America wins again (2, Insightful)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860693)

"Vonnage will look at its cost/risk analysis and decide that paying royalties to Verizon is much better then facing the risk of losing their business."
What makes you think Verizon is willing to license to Vonage?

"All this posturing is merely a game of trying to reach the minimum amount of royalties they have to incur."
Or it's a matter of Verizon trying to sue Vonage out of business.

"The patent business is to profitable to jeopardize by bringing an argument to court."
Huh? How do you think the injunction came into existence in the first place? Verizon has already taken the argument to court.

Re:Corperate America wins again (3, Interesting)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860949)

What makes you think Verizon is willing to license to Vonage?
Because there is money in doing so. It's likely more profitable for Verizon to obtain royalties from Vonage then to have them take over their business.

Or it's a matter of Verizon trying to sue Vonage out of business.
Despite what you think company execs aren't vicious little monsters out to destroy everything that is not them. It is more profitable for them to charge large licensing fees to Vonage then to destroy them.

Huh? How do you think the injunction came into existence in the first place? Verizon has already taken the argument to court.
We are still in the deliberation stage. Verizon and Vonage can still reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial (at least better then one that may be arbitrary assigned by a judge).

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861363)

"Because there is money in doing so. It's likely more profitable for Verizon to obtain royalties from Vonage then to have them take over their business."
Is it? Where's your proof of that? You said it's likely - I call shenanigans. Even if Verizon doesn't pursue VOIP service, Vonage's continued existence takes customers away from Verizon. It's not even a matter of Verizon making use of the patents they have, they could merely sit on them to keep a competitor out of the field. You haven't proven to me that Verizon would make more money through licensing than either driving competition out or using the technology themselves now that VOIP is a more established technology in the mind of the general public.

"Despite what you think company execs aren't vicious little monsters out to destroy everything that is not them. It is more profitable for them to charge large licensing fees to Vonage then to destroy them."
I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words into my mouth. I came nowhere near saying that nonsense. My point was that your vague assertion that Verizon and Vonage are going to work this out is based on nothing and Verizon could very well be refusing to license the patent out simply because they don't want another competitor in the field. Prove otherwise instead of making up nonsense that I did not say.

"We are still in the deliberation stage. Verizon and Vonage can still reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial (at least better then one that may be arbitrary assigned by a judge)."
Your original "point" was something about how Verizon wouldn't risk the patent business by bringing the complaint to court. Not only has Verizon already done just that and brought the case to court, I don't even know that Verizon is primarily making money by exploiting problems in the patent system. Do you? You seem to have a lot to say about what Verizon is up to and what they are planning to do - please, enlighten everyone.

I especially enjoy how you cite no evidence. The poor grammar and spelling is just the cherry on top.

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864225)

Is it? Where's your proof of that? You said it's likely - I call shenanigans. Even if Verizon doesn't pursue VOIP service, Vonage's continued existence takes customers away from Verizon. It's not even a matter of Verizon making use of the patents they have, they could merely sit on them to keep a competitor out of the field. You haven't proven to me that Verizon would make more money through licensing than either driving competition out or using the technology themselves now that VOIP is a more established technology in the mind of the general public.

Well, for one, not everyone is in Vonages' area of service for landlines. Licensing to Vonage would at least let them reach out and touch millions more people, in an indirect way. Of course, there's no proving that Vonage isn't wiping the floor with Verizon in it's own turf, which is probably more problematic for Verizon than any good which could come from licensing to Vonage.

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#18868579)

"Well, for one, not everyone is in Vonages' area of service for landlines. Licensing to Vonage would at least let them reach out and touch millions more people, in an indirect way."
I was responding to the claim that it is more profitable to license to Vonage than to drive Vonage out of business. The fact that licensing might expand the customer base does nothing to prove that it is more profitable to license than to drive Vonage out of business. Starting your statement by saying, "Well, for one," seems to imply that you believe you've refuted my point. You did not.

"Of course, there's no proving that Vonage isn't wiping the floor with Verizon in it's own turf, which is probably more problematic for Verizon than any good which could come from licensing to Vonage."
So what was the point of your post?

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18871195)

Who pissed in your cheerios?

The claim is plausible, isn't it? That's enough. Or are you willing to jump out on a limb and say there is no possible way Verizon could benefit, Mr. I see everything in black and white?

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#18871827)

"The claim is plausible, isn't it? That's enough."
No, it's not enough. The person I replied to was not saying that it was plausible or even just merely possible. He was stating that it was clearly the case that Verizon would be eventually licensing the patent to Vonage.

"Or are you willing to jump out on a limb and say there is no possible way Verizon could benefit, Mr. I see everything in black and white?"
Read in context. I was the one saying you can't make a definitive statement that it is in Verizon's best interest to license the patent.

Re:Corperate America wins again (3, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861367)

It's likely more profitable for Verizon to obtain royalties from Vonage then to have them take over their business.


No. Monopoly rents are more profitable than any royalty or customer payments.

It is more profitable for them to charge large licensing fees to Vonage then to destroy them.


And one way to destroy Vonage is to charge licensing fees that are larger than Vonage's profit margin. It's win-win for Verizon, really.

Re:Corperate America wins again (3, Informative)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861509)

Huh? How do you think the injunction came into existence in the first place? Verizon has already taken the argument to court.
We are still in the deliberation stage. Verizon and Vonage can still reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial (at least better then one that may be arbitrary assigned by a judge).

Actually, no, we're in the appeals stage. The deliberation ended a couple weeks ago when the jury decided that Vonage infringed on 3 out of 5 of Verizon's patents. Then Verizon sought an injunction against Vonage. I think it's safe to say that either Verizon, Vonage, or both are not interested in a licensing agreement. Vonage's entire defense was that the patents are junk and are too broad to be valid. Of course they'd rather pay licensing fees than close up shop, but if that possibility ever comes up, it will happen after the appeals process has been exhausted.

And when you say it's more profitable to Verizon to license the patents' use, I think that's complete speculation. We don't know how much business Verizon can hope to reclaim by stomping out Vonage (and then the other VoIP providers that could also be infringing), and we don't know how much they'd be able to charge for licensing fees (or how much Vonage would be able to pay).

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

greenbird (859670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862461)

Because there is money in doing so. It's likely more profitable for Verizon to obtain royalties from Vonage then to have them take over their business.

Hmmm... Lets see here. Verizon can license this to Vonage and receive a small fraction of what Vonage is charging for each phone line or they can shut down Vonage and force everyone to get their phone lines for which they charge twice what Vonage does and keep all the profits.

It is more profitable for them to charge large licensing fees to Vonage then to destroy them.

Yeah it's more profitable for them to get a small licensing fee from a company that is destroying there entire business model.

We are still in the deliberation stage. Verizon and Vonage can still reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial

"Mutually beneficial" when one companies business is basically destroying the others? My understanding is the Verizon has flat out refused to license the patents to Vonage.

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863805)

The problem is that Vonage relies on Verizon and other telephone companies to be there to support the Vonage product. Without Verizon DSL, they would lose a substantial fraction of their customer base.

This means that Verizon is supporting their competitor, something I bet they would rather not do. They are going to get turned off, somehow or at least prevented from using Verizon's infrastructure to compete with Verizon.

Re:Corperate America wins again (1)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18864297)

using the Internet isn't supporting the Vonage product. Unless you also say ISPs support child pr0n.

what I do w/ my internet access is my business, be it play games, post on slashdot, or establish internet phone service.

You're also forgetting cable. In my area (somewhat rural Northwestern Virginia), cable is far more prevalant than DSL. Also in my area, there is no Verizon DSL package that doesn't require at least a basic home phone service.

I imagine that some users could have DSL through Verizon, and another line with Vonage for long distance, through that same DSL line... But in that case wouldn't Verizon also fight phone card sales, and all those 10-10 dialing schemes? Direct competition, using their lines...

Re:Corperate America wins again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18866809)

what vonage says [freetocompete.com]

I would have thought... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18860593)

this to be a no-brainer, considering what SCOTUS has already said about injunctions. This [wikipedia.org] was actually a pretty important case, in recent history that the injuction issuing judge should really have read. I am pretty sure Verizon couldn't show the injunction met the 4th requirement. Actually, I think they would have a hard time showing items #1 or #3, as well.

Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wanted (3, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860631)

Somehow I can't image that Verizon really wanted to cause Vonage to immediately go out of business which is what would have happened had they not gotten this stay. They would have been out of business by the time the case made it to trial and Verizon wouldn't have received much if anything.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860683)

Somehow I can't image that Verizon really wanted to cause Vonage to immediately go out of business which is what would have happened had they not gotten this stay. They would have been out of business by the time the case made it to trial and Verizon wouldn't have received much if anything.

Except to shutdown the most public use of VoIP outside of any physical medium carrier. Or, in verizon's case, outside of their own business.

That'd be a huge bonus to them.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861185)

This doesn't SAVE Vonage - it just allows them to continue to exist until Verizon can either buy them on the cheap or else get lots of money from them. In order for your argument to make sense, then Verizon would have to believe that another larger player in the VOIP market was going to emerge that they should wait and try to extort for a larger payday in the future. Of course, I am hypothesizing on the premise that Verizon is trying to act like a patent troll.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (1)

Fatal67 (244371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861633)

Wasn't much a fight since verizon was in favor of letting them add customers. Of course, if Verizon wins, that will be that many more customers for Vonage to have pay royalites for.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (3, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862385)

This doesn't SAVE Vonage - it just allows them to continue to exist until Verizon can either buy them on the cheap or else get lots of money from them. In order for your argument to make sense, then Verizon would have to believe that another larger player in the VOIP market was going to emerge that they should wait and try to extort for a larger payday in the future.

It's not about the money. Phone companies in general aren't about making money; They have more money than God. What do they need an extra 60 mil for?

The telcos are all about power; Consolidating theirs. If there are external voice players out there, they want them eliminated. A rival and real competition would threaten their hold on their market, and that's not something they'll stand for. VoIP has the potential to be the most disrupting technology since the internet itself; The telcoms are terrified of it. If they can supress it long enough to establish a strangle hold on it, they win.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (1)

greenbird (859670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862511)

Somehow I can't image that Verizon really wanted to cause Vonage to immediately go out of business

Are you kidding? Verizon's request was for an injunction shutting down Vonage's VoIP services altogether immediately until the appeals were complete. The "no new customers" was a compromise by the judge.

Re:Somehow I can't imagine that Verizon really wan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18870653)

Somehow I can't image that Verizon really wanted to cause Vonage to immediately go out of business...
They don't want them to go out of business. They just want them to go on sale.

Does the general public know? (4, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860645)

This is a huge story among us techno types, but does the general public have any clue?

Just last night, I got the usual pack of coupons in the mail... including one inviting me to choose Vonage for my local phone service. I'd wager nobody on my block has ever heard of the Vonage vs. Verizon patent battle. What happens to these folks -- especially the non-technical ones who don't even understand the 911 and VoIP thing [911voip.org] -- if Vonage eventually loses its case entirely?

Or is Vonage's strategy now built around pumping up the customer base in advance of the inevitable bankruptcy and fire sale of their only remaining asset: their customer list?

Re:Does the general public know? (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860797)

especially the non-technical ones who don't even understand the 911 and VoIP thing


Given that many "technical" people still don't get the 911 thing (and claim it's way worse than it actually is), maybe it's for the best...

It wouldn't be the end of the world if your phone company went out of business and you had to sign up with a new one. Especially in the age of number portablilty.

Re:Does the general public know? (2)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861027)

I have Vonage. My other options are Cox (VOIP) or Embarq (POTS)
I have internet through Cox at the moment, but their VOIP costs more than Vonage.
I will fight tooth and nail going back to Embarq(Formerly Sprint).
My wife has had the same phone number her whole life. I can just see something going wrong and losing the number. I'd probably get a divorce.

Re:Does the general public know? (3, Interesting)

Jett (135113) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861707)

I don't get the whole "911" thing. I've had to call 911 on my Vonage phone and it worked fine. As I'm sure everyone here knows, when you sign up you have to "activate" 911 service (i.e. fill out a form with your address and wait for them to verify it) - it's no big deal.

Re:Does the general public know? (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862681)

Actually, apparently you do get it.

Unfortunately many techies read way too much into the situation and assume that you get sub-par E911 service on your Vonage phone. It's just plain not true. The only additional complication is that you need a UPS for your router so you can call 911 when the power is out.

Re:Does the general public know? (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865535)

From the vonage website:

Customers in locations where the emergency center is not equipped to receive your telephone number and address have basic 911. With basic 911, the local emergency operator answering the call will not have your call back number or your exact location, so you must be prepared to give them this information. Until you give the operator your phone number, he/she may not be able to call you back or dispatch help if the call is not completed or is not forwarded, is dropped or disconnected, or if you are unable to speak.

and

Certain customers do not have access to either basic 911 or E911. If you don't have access to basic 911 or E911 your 911 call will be sent to the Vonage national emergency call center. A trained agent at the emergency call center will ask for the name, telephone number and location of the customer calling 911, and then contact the local emergency center for such customer in order to send help.

Re:Does the general public know? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863775)

It wouldn't be the end of the world if your phone company went out of business and you had to sign up with a new one. Especially in the age of number portablilty.

Except that Vonage then goes out of business because all you can call are other Vonage customers.

Vonage counts on the existing telephone service being there and working for all non-Vonage customers. This was never about putting the existing tariffed telecoms out of business, it was about reselling their services with a different wrapper.

Re:Does the general public know? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18869829)

Except that Vonage then goes out of business because all you can call are other Vonage customers.


First of all, that makes no sense in the context of my comment. So Vonage goes out of business... Sign up with somebody else afterward.

Vonage counts on the existing telephone service being there and working for all non-Vonage customers. This was never about putting the existing tariffed telecoms out of business, it was about reselling their services with a different wrapper.


That's absurd. First of all, if everybody switched to Vonage, it wouldn't matter that you could only contact other Vonage customers. Second, it doesn't rely on the existing switched voice infrastructure at all. It would work *even better* if everybody else went VoIP too. This is not about reselling the existing services. This is about the move from circuit switched to packet switched technology; a move that the phone companies already made behind the scenes, and Vonage and the like are just bringing the cost savings of that move to the end user. They don't have to put the existing carriers out of business to do it either, as they can continue to do business selling data access instead of telephone circuits.

Re:Does the general public know? (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18872155)

I got an email solicitation from Vonage to pay for the whole year now and save about $50. They claimed it was no risk, hahaha.

Net to Phone (2, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860667)

Now they just need a new way to get calls from the net to a phone line. I wonder if anyone has patented taping a phone to a speaker.

Re:Net to Phone (3, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861021)

I wonder if anyone has patented taping a phone to a speaker.

Just because it seems obvious to you, doesn't mean it didn't take someone else millions of dollars in reasearch to develop this INVENTION. It could have taken many billed hours to perfect the tape required to adhere the phone to the said speaker. What will happen if those who carefully do this research aren't compensated for their efforts? We will all be cast back into the stone age with our children. Please think of the children!

Re:Net to Phone (1)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863521)

No, it doesn't work that way. I can guarantee it didn't take millions of dollars to patent this one invention. If it did, you wouldn't be hedging your bets on just ONE patent. And "obvious" doesn't mean "obvious" to Joe Schmo on the street -- it's "obvious to one skilled in the art." An even lower standard.

Re:Net to Phone (2, Funny)

hicksw (716194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18868829)

Acoustic couplers?
--
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known, but not here.

Verizon's Bitch Whore... (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860781)

Unfortunately for Vonage, under the current patent system, Verizon almost certainly has them under their thumb. Within the current rules, I'm betting that Vonage can't win, and somehow will become Verizon's bitch whore just to stay in business. Patent reform is the solution, but it's not going to happen in time for Vonage.

Re:Verizon's Bitch Whore... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862987)

Meanwhile, Vonage has some more time to research prior art on tying packet-based telecom systems to the PSTN. And they may very well find them. I've seen exmples of this nearly 30 years old.

Verizon's patents may prove to be worthless.

Re:Verizon's Bitch Whore... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18872103)

Verizon's patents may prove to be worthless.

What world do you live in?

How about.. (2, Interesting)

loconet (415875) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860875)

I'm not too familiar with what exactly is going on here and the reach of the issues but how about Vonage Canada? Did Verizon register the patent up here as well? Does it even matter (considering traffic still goes through American based technology/infrastructure)?..

Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18860879)

vonage is such a freaking scam.
I mean holy f-.... $40 + a month , for what?
something you can do yourself?

I pay $4 a month for voip, with all services, all in.
my "long distance" is 1.5cents north america, europe, and asia.

so, really, wtf?

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (2, Interesting)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861137)

So how do you get a actual phone number tied to your VoIP and how can you dial out to an arbitrary phone number? If I knew how to do that, I wouldn't get Vonage (or Verizon) either!

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (3, Interesting)

Mordaximus (566304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861801)

Through any number of wholesale VoIP providers. This might help : http://www.voipproviderslist.com/ [voipproviderslist.com]

I've personally used Unlimitel (In Canada) for over a year and have been extremely happy with the service. $2.50/month for a DID and $0.01/minute for calls on their network, which is where I place most of my calls. It was far, far cheaper with me (With 4 DIDs) using their service than even basic service from other providers.

You're best off if you're running your own PBX, such as Asterisk, since you can provide your own voice mail services etc.

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863167)

The problem is there are like a brazillion different providers. How do you know which are worthwhile?

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18868869)

Thanks for all the info buddy!

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18869967)

I imagine setting up a PBX is for using multiple lines in your own home?

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18861545)

I pay $16 a month for 500 minutes, which is about 30 minutes more than I have ever used in one month. I can take my little Vonage box with me to any broadband connection on earth and my phone magically rings there. When someone leaves me voicemail their message gets emailed to me. If I ever want to see who has called me or who I have called I can check it on a webpage. I've had Vonage for almost three years now and haven't had a single problem with it.

Tell me what can compete with this for $4 a month. Hell, tell me what can compete with this for even $30 a month. I used to pay almost $40 a month just for local phone service!

Re:Vonage sucks donkey balls, no, really! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18863597)

Don't forget Vonage has free unlimited calling anywhere in the US, Canada, Peurto Rico, and certain parts of UK now as well. Show me another provider that gives me Caller ID, Voice mail to email, call waiting for $32 a month and I might consider it. Honestly, I've had Vonage now for just a little over a year now, and it's been great. It was hilarious to get a call from Verizon a couple of months after the switch though dangling the "FIOS" carrot, like that would ever be available in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

Damn! That 's too bad. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860935)

Now thing whole patent mess will just drag out and never be resolved. Shutting them down would wake the public up and make them mad. Oh, wait...That's why the stay. We can't make the public aware that they are being raped. They might do something, like call for abolition or some such nonsense. Or worse, they might vote out a valuable incumbent. And we definitely can't have people actually being aware of and using their power they have over the government.

Re:Damn! That 's too bad. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861049)

That reminds me of the blackberry case where there was an injunction for everybody except the US government. Wouldn't want your elected representatives to go without their blackberry, they might actually see how messed up the patent system really is. Luckily in this case RIM came up with a technical work-around and never had to actually shut down their system.

Re:Damn! That 's too bad. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861277)

Well of course. This is how the game works. They simply push as hard as they can without drawing undue attention. When it gets too heavy, they back off a bit. just like what's happening with the RIAA thing. The judge is actually doing them a favor so the process can continue while the public remains distracted.

We have a stay! Sign up today! (5, Funny)

searchr (564109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18860997)

Vonage! We can't guarantee we'll be here tomorrow, but we promise great service today!

[Sign up for a 3 or 5 year plan, pay in advance, and earn a special reserved seating package for all future Vonage court proceedings!]

Link to the actual text of the patent in question (3, Informative)

Dejohn (164452) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861295)

Here's the patent Click Here [uspto.gov]

Re:Link to the actual text of the patent in questi (3, Insightful)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861895)

It seems that they have patented using a computer to store information and to facilitate a transaction.

Ironic Much? (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18861911)

I like how when Microsoft subtly destroys competition, the courts make a grand show of slapping them on the wrist with fines, while Verizon gets complete court approval to openly eliminate a competitor with ridiculous patents. Perhaps M$ should change tactics?

Is V the new X? (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862149)

Vonage, Verizon, VA, VoIP. Too many Vs!!

Jeff Pulver claims prior art.... (3, Interesting)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862175)

Jeff Pulver has come forward claiming that he published a book called "The VOIP Toolkit" that has all of verizon's patent stuff in it. The problem for Verizon is that the book was published MONTHS before they filed for their first patent. he used name translation for Free World Dialup back in 1995. It also looks like Dialpad predated Verizon's use of this technology as well...

Here: http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/006846.html [pulver.com]

Verizon is looking more and more screwed every day....

If your BIG enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18862427)

I think this is just another example of if your a BIG enough company you can break the law and basically continue to without really paying consequences. Patent laws don't mean anything if you can make billions. You can always tie the courts up for years or find some Republican, politician, under the table judge to help you out.

The point of a patent is no more.

Let me be the first to say... (0, Redundant)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18862717)

Woo hoo! Woo hoo hoo!

Vonage is going to go down... eventually (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18863857)

The problem is that Vonage is relying on Verizon's infrastructure (DSL, PSTN) in order for their business to function. If it wasn't possible for people with Verizon DSL to use Vonage or to call a Verizon PSTN customer from Vonage, Vonage wouldn't have a product.

This is like buying your hamburgers at McDonalds and selling them at a discount from a cart in the parking lot. OK, so McDonalds made a deal with you to sell you the burgers at a big discount because you bought so many. Well, at some point they will notice what you are doing and stop. And like Vonage and Verizon, when the supplier pulls the plug, it's over.

This is what happens when you build a business model leeching off of an established supplier. The established supplier hates you and will do just about anything to get rid of you. It's not like Vonage has a product that can exist independently of Verizon or any other existing telecom company. We have seen this business model go down several times in the past 10-20 years or so and while it is a fun ride for the investors, it has no staying power.

Vonage is going down, it is just a matter of time. If they can't be shut down with patents, they will be shut down by some other means.

Re:Vonage is going to go down... eventually (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18865601)

Your argument is bullshit, troll. You are obviously a 'big monopoly telco' astroturfer.

Vonage does not need Verizon's infrastructure to exist. You dont have to have *VERIZON* DSL to use Voip, ANY highspeed Internet connection will suffice.

Also, only if a Vonage user calls a Verizon customer does it connect to Verizon's PSTN. If they call an AT&T customer, it goes to AT&T. And, astonishly, if they call another Vonage customer, it doesnt go anywhere near the obsolete 'PSTN'. And guess what, the same thing happens if an AT&T user calls a Verizon customer, or any customer of one telephone service provider calls a customer of another - its called interconnection, and in order to avoid balkanization, its pretty much require in order for there to be fair competition for the provision of telecom services.

Yes, the 'baby (monopoly) bells' currently have near-monopoly control of the legacy market, but not letting new companies in only hurts competition, and in the end, telecommunications customers. Verizon,(the 'new') AT&T, and all the other monopoly ILECs can go fsck themselves, as far as I'm concerned. I would never do business with either of them.

mod 04 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18864293)

AMERICA) is the conversati0ns where bunch of retarded Those uber-asshole and shower. For to any BSD project, Hot on the heels of roots and gets on Here, but what is

So if you steal, you can keep the booty. (1)

oldwarrior (463580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18870881)

Arr, my mateys, raise the jawlly rawjah!

Email response from Verizon! (2, Insightful)

An0maly (448481) | more than 7 years ago | (#18871221)

i emailed verizon about this crap last time there was a big thread. here is my email and the response:

I recently read about Verizon's attempt to stop Vonage from allowing VOIP calls to connect to old telephone systems on basis of "patent infringement". If I recall, other companies used the technology mentioned before Verizon had acquired those patents. I have to say that I'm angry and baffled.

What is the ultimate goal for this type of action? Do you think that all of the Vonage customers who could potentially be without service soon would flock to gobble up everything Verizon has to offer? Don't you think that those people that have Vonage land lines, but have Verizon cellular service might reconsider their wireless provider when it's time to renew the contract? I don't have a wireless phone, but I had considered getting service from Verizon. You guys just shot that to hell. Well done.
- Show quoted text -

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: customersupport@verizon.com
Date: Mar 23, 2007 3:38 PM
Subject: RE:Verizon.com Consumer email response [#16185185]

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. I have received your email dated March 23, 2007 regarding our recent lawsuit with Vonage. Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your comments. My name is Wendy, and I will be happy to assist you.

We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us. We value the opinions of our customers and those that visit our website. On March 8, 2007, a jury found that Vonage Holdings Corp. had infringed three United States patents awarded to Verizon covering methods of offering commercial-quality VoIP services, including wireless access to VoIP.

As stated by John Thorne, a Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, "Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing. Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world. We are proud of our inventors and pleased the jury stood up for the legal protections they deserve."

I hope I have resolved your reason for contacting us. If you have additional questions, or if we may be of assistance to you in the future, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Sincerely,
Wendy
Verizon eCenter

to customersupport

          Mar 23
My main question is what constitues infringment by Vonage and not others who offer identical service? Will you be suing all companies that are able to bill by the minute (every wireless carrier on the planet)? All VOIP providers that connect to POTS (Virtually ALL cable providers)?
- Show quoted text -

          Mar 26
Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter.

I apologize for the delay in my response, and I regret any inconvenience to you.

My name is Jamie and I have been forwarded your email with further questions regarding the Vonage lawsuit. You wanted to know if Verizon plans to pursue other companies who have produced the same services as Vonage. You also wanted clarification as to what constitutes infringement by Vonage, and not other VOIP carriers.

Vonage is the only company to our knowledge that used our specific patents to produce their products. Other VOIP companies that offer this service were able to provide this service using a different method other than our patents.

At this time, we do not have any intention to pursue other companies regarding this issue. We are not aware of other companies that have used our patents to produce this service.

If any further companies attempt to use a Verizon patent, a press release will be issued advising of any plan of action against other companies.

I hope this has clarified your concerns.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Sincerely,
Jamie
Supervisor
Verizon eCenter
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