Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Vonage and Verizon — Prepare for Round 2

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the fight-night dept.

Communications 49

According to the New York Times, Vonage is preparing to take it's case back down to the lower courts for a retrial of the lawsuit against them from Verizon. Their hope is that with newer approaches set forth by the supreme court that the lower courts will be able to decide whether Verizon's patent(s) are ordinary/obvious or deserve patent protection. I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Ordinary and obvious? (2, Interesting)

Stormwave0 (799614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960027)

Forgive me as it's been a while since I looked at the patent documents. But I do recall posters here on slashdot found prior art that could (possibly) be used to deem the patents invalid. Why try to invalidate a patent on obviousness when you can just use prior art? Seems like that would be the easier option.

Re:Ordinary and obvious? (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960063)

Because prior art that does not directly invalidate the patent will go a long way toward showing the obviousness of the invention it protects

Re:Ordinary and obvious? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18964961)

And this is a very very good thing indeed - especially for open source. This may have impact on Many Many patents such as the MS "FAT" patents, Amazon's One Click, the NTP patents that bit RIM, etc. Frankly, I would bet that 90% of the dot bomb patents have related prior art that would raise the "obviousness" question. The problem is cost of challenging these patents. Hugely expensive.

Re:Ordinary and obvious? (2, Insightful)

Eddi3 (1046882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960155)

Aren't they basically the same thing? If it's obvious, there will probably be prior art, just because of its obviousness. And, if there's prior art, and these two companies developed systems parallel to each other, as well as other companies, it's probably an obvious invention/solution.

  - Eddie

Obvious does NOT mean there's prior art. (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961139)

Aren't they basically the same thing? If it's obvious, there will probably be prior art, just because of its obviousness.

No, they're not.

"Prior art" means it's already been done that way, or exactly that way of doing it has been described publicly.

"Obvious" means that if a person "skilled in the art" sets out to actually do it, he's likely to come up with that way of doing it as one of his design options. It does NOT mean:
  - It's already been done that way.
  - That way of doing it has already been described.

There are a number of reasons an "obvious" invention would not be prior art. One of the biggest is that the technology might not have gotten to the point were it's practical to practice such an invention. Another is that the business environment may not yet make use of the invention a good business plan. Once these externalities are resolved and people are set to do the task, the "obvious" inventions are then detail-designed and implemented. Sometimes, once it becomes clear that they WILL be resolved, people begin planning and publishing.

Both of these apply here.

Once these externalities are resolved and people are set to do the task, the "obvious" inventions are then detail-designed and implemented. Sometimes, once it becomes clear that they WILL be resolved, people begin planning and publishing - for instance: in academia, or in standards organizations.

Both of these have happened here.

But if "obvious" is abandoned and "prior art" required, it becomes possible for an alert businessman to lock up the obvious ways of doing things by rushing to the patent office with a flurry of applications for every obvious solution that nobody has happened to have published on or done - often because it's so obvious they thought there was no point in mentioning it.

Think about it: What's "the internet way to build a phone company"?
  - Use a stock streaming VoIP protocol to carry calls on the internet.
  - Use VOIP/POTS bridge servers at price-convenient locations when you need to contact to a POTS phone (or connect two POTS phones to each other over your IP service).
  - Use a database (such as DNS) to translate user identification information to routing information - which includes:
        a) Phone number and preferred VoIP/POTS bridge address(es) when the called phone is on the POTS side.
        b) Multiple possible sites and the preferred order for trying them (call forwarding)
        c) A registration entry made by a portable wireless phone when it associated access point as it moved into range.
  - Also use databases to authorize calls and record billing information when calls are made.

Obvious, right? If somebody set you to do this that's what YOU'D do, right?

Well a), b), and c) are what Verizon claimed are their non-obvious inventions - and got the patent office and a lower court to agree and almost KILL Vonage by blocking them from doing anything like it.

(I think they also claimed tying authorization and billing for VoIP or VoIP/POTS bridged calls into database authorization/billing systems, too.)

Obvious DOES mean prior art (1)

PatentMagus (1083289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18964321)

How do you prove something is obvious without prior art? There will always be a need for prior art references. Especially when the USPTO doesn't get to an application for a few years. What is obvious today might have been insightful 3 years ago. Many patent applicants go into business with a "patent pending". If someone's own efforts in the marketplace (after filing an application) renders their own invention obvious, then things are even more broken than now.

The biggest problem with prior art on slashdot is that so few people here understand what it actually is. It has to be relevent and it has to be published before an application's priority date. It doesn't matter what people claim they did without credible verification. That's where published prior art comes into play. An assertion that you did something will only buy you an afidavit, a court appearence, and a bit of "impeaching the witness".

So, now we have KSR v Teleflex. Cool. The old test was kinda bogus. I'll read the USSC opinion in the next day or two because it has completely changed how I respond to office actions. I don't believe, however, that much will change. Lots of bad patents will still slip through. Lots of good ones will still get rejected.

Most of all, the new ruling will change things on the litigation side. After all, it is the litigators who fight to overcome patents after they've issued. ka-ching!

The biggest cases recently are the ATT v M$ (no overseas infringement) and the earlier one that said no immediate injunctions for asserted infringement. Those are the ones with the biggest effects on trolls and corporate coffers.

Re:Ordinary and obvious? (0, Redundant)

Shambly (1075137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960347)

If its ordinary and obvious then their can not be any patent infrigment if its prior art and that prior art has a patent the problem still exists only not with the same company.

Re:Ordinary and obvious? (1)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960935)

If the invention is disclosed in a single document (printed publication, patent) with the requisite date, it anticipates the claimed invention under one or more provisions of 35 USC 102 (lack of novelty). It is only when no one prior art reference discloses the claimed invention that the question of obviousness under 35 USC 103 arises, usually requiring at least one additional piece of prior art to support it. It is technically true that a claim rejected/invalidated for lack of novelty under 35 USC 102 implicitly fails also under 35 USC 103 as obvious, since anticipation is the "epitome of obviousness".

Obligatory: (4, Funny)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960323)

FTF Summary:

I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?


Vonage addressing the courts about the obviousness of the patents: ... Can you hear me now?

Verizon: We object!

Re:Obligatory: (3, Funny)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961747)

Judge: Overruled

Vonage: Woo hoo, Woo hoo hoo...

Re:Obligatory: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18964587)

Judge : Sustained !

Later

Judge - Court : We find Vonage liable for patent fraud. As such they shall discontinue all services. As of now Verizon has all control of Vonage and all debt will be the responsibility of the former owners of Vonage.

Later

Supreme Court - We will not take this case, Vonage must abide by the lower courts ruling.

When this happens all of the fucktarded former owners of Vonage should go find a a razor, run a hot bath and slit their fucking wrists to earn themselves a Darwin award.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR WASTE YOUR GOD DAMNED MOD POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!

Specifics (1)

forrie (695122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960387)

Would the onus fall upon Vongage to demonstrate this (presumably).

Does anyone know enough about the patent who can comment on what specifics Verizon claims is original. As I recall, the idea of "voice over IP" has been around for quite some time, so I wonder what part of this technology Verizon claims is theirs and truly original and protected.

Re:Specifics (3, Informative)

DoctaStooge (1028066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960599)

There are 3 patents in all. 2 of these cover the switching between IP telephony and PSTN telephony. These patents use the ideas of ip->ip calls, pstn->pstn calls, and basically what is a DNS setup in between to facilitate the switching of packets between these two types of telephony networks. Verizon claims the "dns" part as the actual invention, although the patents just contain an idea, and no actual description of how it is implemented. This switching problem was worked on by SIP and H.323 in efforts to develop open standards in conjunction with Microsoft, Cisco, and other companies, and from what I understand, even earlier by 3Com.

My understanding: (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960671)

Does anyone know enough about the patent who can comment on what specifics Verizon claims is original. As I recall, the idea of "voice over IP" has been around for quite some time, so I wonder what part of this technology Verizon claims is theirs and truly original and protected.

Based on another article on the topic that I read earlier today, Verizon's patents don't cover VoIP entirely, but they do cover some general schemes for translating IP addresses into phone numbers and vice versa. E.g., a Skype-like (dunno about SkypeOut, though) system wouldn't be covered by the patents, but systems that interface directly into the POTS system, give you a real phone number that's routed to the IP device, and allow you to direct-dial POTS lines from the IP device, are in trouble.

So the prior art you'd need to find isn't just some implementation of voice-over-IP, it would be something that actually interfaces the IP system to the telephone system and provides translation back and forth between the two, particularly in terms of switching and routing calls.

This is great news (2, Insightful)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960523)

I'm a happy Vonage subscriber and was thrilled when the USSC essentially gutted patent law as it exists.

Not only do I think Vonage will prevail in this case, I also think they should pursue a case against Verizon for anti-trust.

And in other news, Verizon RI lost $9.7 million last year. I had long thought they'd lost at a maximum a third their business but it gets better, 43% of land lines in RI aren't Verizon land lines any longer. So what does Verizon do to counter the loss? They hike rates.

A good anti-trust action would be the kick needed to fracture Verizon into a million little pieces. Then the new at&t had better watch out.

Lets face it, VoIP was and is known as a disruptive technology. Brilliant little idea, use the IP capability built into most telephone switches to take advantage of excess switching capacity. And in the end, disruptive technologies almost ALWAYS win.

Re:This is great news (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960865)

Not only do I think Vonage will prevail in this case, I also think they should pursue a case against Verizon for anti-trust.

I'm not sure I agree. It depends on what you think Vonage would use as the grounds for an anti-trust suit. If you propose that they claim Verizon is using their position to punish through patent lawsuits, that probably wouldn't work. Vonage depends on the recent Supreme Court ruling to vacate and re-try the case, which means that prior to this ruling, Verizon had a "legitimate" case. On the other hand, if you want them to show how Verizon has used their multi-state monopoly to interfere in every way with Vonage entering the marketing, they might actually have a reasonable argument. However, a successful suit may result in the breakup of the Verizon monopoly, which would net a bunch of smaller businesses that are lithe enough to actually compete with Vonage. At the moment, Verizon is busy enough carefully examining their own rectum (as evidenced by all attempts to preserve the current business model) that by the time they actually try to truly compete in the VoIP market, it will be too late, and all Verizon will have left is the path of being a network and services provider.

Re:This is great news (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961171)

FYI: The commonly accepted acronym of the United States Supreme Court is SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States).

Re:This is great news (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961751)

It isn't so common in the judicial system. USSC does just fine as it expands to United States Supreme Court.

Re:This is great news (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18963649)

Yeah yeah, so I learned from a coworker in environmental law recently.
What's your point? Lawyers can't even write intelligible English,
so why should I care that they can't be bothered to keep uo with
conventions that actually happen to be relevant?

USSC could expand to any number of things, and only through context is
it "apparent" what the author meant. USSC also looks a lot like USMC.
(VERA does not have SCOTUS but if you give it USSC it gives you USMC
  USSR and USSS)

Q: What do you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the sea?
A: A good start.

Re:This is great news (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18963727)

What do you call a bus load of lawyers going off a cliff?

A Shame.

What do you call the same bus with two seat empty?

A Crying Shame.

Another lawyer joke. That's orgininal. (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#18964603)

Lawyers are just terrible leeches, drains on society - except when you've been accused of something you didn't do, and Big Corp, or the government, or someone with a grudge wants to work you over. Then suddenly a lawyer is your best friend. Ask anyone who has ever been sued or iniated a torts action, or been brought to court on criminal charges.

Re:Another lawyer joke. That's orgininal. (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18965813)

I have to admit something here. Even though I do crack on lawyers I do consulting work for quite a few of them. They pay nicely and I'm not about to put them down completely.

Re:Another lawyer joke. That's orgininal. (1)

Slashdiddly (917720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18967349)

Except that the system in which those things are possible (and indeed likely) has been set up by guess who - the congress, virtually all of whom are lawyers.

Re:This is great news (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18963553)

Heh, I was just coming to say the same thing.

Re:This is great news (2, Interesting)

Morkano (786068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18962647)

I don't know how this lawsuit is hurting them financially, but it can't be all bad. I just moved and was looking for a phone solution a while back. I was considering just ditching a landline and getting a cell. But then I saw these articles on Slashdot and actually saw how cheap Vonage was. $20/mo for everything, how can you beat that? There's no contract, only a $40 installation fee.

Even if they crash at the end of the summer, I'll have only paid $30/mo for a good phone system. I call that a good deal.

Re:This is great news (2, Insightful)

kinabrew (1053930) | more than 7 years ago | (#18962935)

I pay a company called Sunrocket about $17/month for unlimited calls [sunrocket.com] , and Sunrocket has no installation fee.

Re:This is great news (1)

Morkano (786068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18963167)

I should mention that it had to be avaliable in Canada. And since a lot of my friends are moving and don't have phones yet, if I can talk them into getting Vonage I can free months.

Re:This is great news (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18965357)

I should mention that it had to be avaliable in Canada. And since a lot of my friends are moving and don't have phones yet, if I can talk them into getting Vonage I can free months.
yeah- the nice thing is that I can be in LA and have both a local LA number and a virtual number that's a local call in Canada, so it takes care of long distance in both directions pretty cheap.

Re:This is great news (1)

Isvara (898928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18971263)

Brilliant little idea, use the IP capability built into most telephone switches to take advantage of excess switching capacity.
Most telephone switches (by which I mean the ones used by telcos) aren't IP-based -- they're not even packet switched. The capacity being used is that of Internet switching fabric, which is an entirely different network (altogether!).

Re:This is great news (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18979177)

True, it's an interface card to the switching fabric. But still, there's lots of underutilized switching fabric out there and that is what VoIP took advantage of.

Ok, but what does this mean? (1)

Coldmoon (1010039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960705)

FTA:

I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?
Ok, so this is going back to the lower courts and the SC managed to side-step the deeper aspects of this case... so it would be interesting to hear from the legal experts as to what broader ramifications we could expect to see from a Vonage win in a re-trial...

Re:Ok, but what does this mean? (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961281)

Ok, so this is going back to the lower courts and the SC managed to side-step the deeper aspects of this case...

Seems to me they hit the nail squarely on the head.

so it would be interesting to hear from the legal experts as to what broader ramifications we could expect to see from a Vonage win in a re-trial...

IANAL but it seems to me that SCOTUS just pulled the rug out from under all the bogus "do this well-understood thing but ON THE INTERNET" patents.

Verizon vs. Vonage might be the snowball that starts the avalanche.

Of course Verizon's patent is original! (1)

Shoeler (180797) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960725)

I mean - who would have ever thought of putting IP-based phone traffic over the PTSN! Wait - wasn't that why it was created - and by a company Cisco acquired a company whose name escapes me for their VOIP systems back in the late 90s... Cisco would have NEVER thought of THAT!

Re:Of course Verizon's patent is original! (1)

Shoeler (180797) | more than 7 years ago | (#18960755)

Ok - found it - it was Selsius [wikipedia.org] .

ENUM (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18960889)

Folks,

There is a public standard called ENUM that is defined by an IETF RFC and that basically involves the mapping of a Telephone Number (TN) to IP address, which is at the core of the Verizon patent.

ENUM in its public and carrier implementations is basically DNS for VoIP. It resolves TN to IP address, email, IM ID, or other strings that can be used to reach the user. Most if not all ENUM Addressing Servers are built on top of DNS server capabilities.

It's an obvious use of an existing technology. By the same token, if ENUM infringes on the Verizon patent, then the whole Internet DNS system could infringe on the Verizon patent because DNS can be READILY used to return an IP for any TN as long as the TN is specified as a domain name, using the reversed TN-domain format, e.g. 2.1.2.1.5.5.5.2.1.2.1.e164.arpa (for public ENUM.) DNS and ENUM are one and the same. ENUM is simply one "use case" for DNS.

!!!

The courts need opinions like these to defeat Verizon.

Not defeating Verizon means that DNS itself will be infringing on their patent.

Does it mean that they can shutdown the Internet?

h.323 && VOIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18960929)

back in 93, I was working at Bell Labs. We had started the raptor project. It was H.323 connection over IP. There was also other types very similar. Basically, Verizon does not have a leg to stand on.

Re:h.323 && VOIP (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961145)

Basically, Verizon does not have a leg to stand on.

Except in a court of law.

Error! "it's" in the summary (1)

NG Resonance (794484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18961709)

The proper term is "its." "It's" is an abbreviation for "it is," while "its" signifies that "it" possesses something.

Re:Error! "it's" in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18962669)

If you're going to nit that common mistake, you may as well know that "it's" is not an abbreviation. It is a contraction.

ROUND 2! (2, Funny)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 7 years ago | (#18962479)

FIGHT!

(cue Mortal Kombat theme)

spon"ge (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18962901)

not going home develop8ent models

Forget Original! Use "software is not a component" (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 7 years ago | (#18963519)

Everyone is talking about "KSR INTERNATIONAL CO. v. TELEFLEX INC. ET AL." expanding obviousness. That was not the most important decision of the day.

MICROSOFT CORP. v. AT&T CORP. was. Check this out:

(a) A copy of Windows, not Windows in the abstract, qualifies as a"component" under 271(f). Section 271(f) attaches liability to the supply abroad of the "components of a patented invention, where such components are uncombined in whole or in part, in such manner as to actively induce the combination of such components." 271(f)(1)(emphasis added). The provision thus applies only to "such components" as are combined to form the "patented invention" at issue--here, AT&T's speech-processing computer. Until expressed as a computer-readable "copy," e.g., on a CD-ROM, Windows--indeed any software detached from an activating medium--remains uncombinable. It cannot be inserted into a CD-ROM drive or downloaded from the Internet; it cannot be installed or executed on a computer. Abstract software code is an idea without physical embodiment, and as such, it does not match 271(f)'s categorization: "components" amenable to "combination." Windows abstracted from a tangible copy no doubt is information--a detailed set of instructions--and thus might be compared to a blueprint (or anything else containing design information). A blueprint may contain precise instructions for the construction and combination of the components of a patented device, but it is not itself a combinable component.

The fact that it is easy to encode software's instructions onto a computer-readable medium does not counsel a different answer. The copy-producing step is what renders software a usable, combinable part of a computer; easy or not, the extra step is essential. Moreover, many tools may be used easily and inexpensively to generate the parts of a device. Those tools are not, however, "components" of the devices in which the parts are incorporated, at least not under any ordinary understanding of the term "component." Congress might have included within 271(f)'s compass, for example, not only a patented invention's combinable "components," but also "information, instructions, or tools from which those components readily may be generated." It did not.

At the end of the day (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18964813)

If I am reading the decision correctly, SCOTUS has changed the game by ruling that a patent fails the obviousness test if:

1) Any ordinarily skilled person in that area of expertise would, if they set about building a device to do what the patented device does, come up with nearly the same solution you did. In other words, you can't patent sending email over a cellular network, because anyone with email/cellular networking experience would come up with the same system you did (or one substantially similar).

2) A patent that is merely a combination of two existing methods is considered routine exercise of general knowledge in the art and is also not patentable.

One-click patent? IsNot operator? Connecting VOIP calls to the POTS network? Not patentable; these things fail the obviousness test. They are all examples of combining multiple existing methodologies, applying existing methodologies to new technology, or doing what any sane person with skills in that area would do.

However something like JPEG or WMV would still qualify, as there are many ways to compress images to fit into a smaller space. Frankly, that's the kind of software I think should be patentable... There is very little (relative to total patented software overall) that deserves protection, but there are still a few novel ideas that are worth protecting.

I might also point out that patent examiners are bound by these court decisions as well; I know there have been many cases where frivilous patents were rejected (often several times) by the examiner but the examiner was overruled thanks to the jacked-up circuit court decisions that essentially made it impossible to demonstrate prior art. Now that SCOTUS has put patents back in their place many more of the rejections from the patent office should stick.

Re:At the end of the day (2, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18965089)

JPEG, WMV, and most other codecs mostly do minor adaptations to compression techniques that have been around since the 1960s, and as such, should have very few valid patents (despite the huge number of patents that have been granted in these areas).

Codecs are also a good example of when interoperability should trump patentability. IMHO, data formats and the means needed to convert data formats to a standard format should not be protected under any body of intellectual property law (including patents), as this leads inevitably to vendor lock-in. In other words, decompressing technology should be legal to implement under all circumstances without any license.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

dave1g (680091) | more than 7 years ago | (#19016933)

That actually sounds like a good compromise in that case. Allow compression routines to be patented, but not the decompression routine. Since the decompresser is useless without compressed content. the patent owner is guaranteed money from the compressor but does get to lock up content with licensing fees cus no one can pay to decompress their own stuff.

Re:At the end of the day (1)

QuickSilver_999 (166186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18968591)

1) Any ordinarily skilled person in that area of expertise would, if they set about building a device to do what the patented device does, come up with nearly the same solution you did. In other words, you can't patent sending email over a cellular network, because anyone with email/cellular networking experience would come up with the same system you did (or one substantially similar).

I guess my problem with this is: Who makes this decision? This sounds like another boondoggle of "Expert Witnesses." Basically, whoever can come up with the most people that say it either is or is not obvious is the winner. Always remembering of course that EVERYTHING is obvious in hindsight. That objection BTW does not necessary have anything to do with this particular case, but is IMHO a definite potential problem to the "obvious" rule in possible future cases.

Would for example the simple claw hammer count under a patent when it was first made? Prior to that invention, one would (I assume) use a miniature sledge type hammer to pound a nail in and something akin to a crowbar to pull it out if they needed to. Some smart cookie said "Damn, I wish there was a way to have a single tool that would let me pound in a nail OR pull it out, so I wouldn't have to keep switching tools." It's an incredibly obvious invention, but it was put together in a whole new way. And it also falls under 2) below, since it combines 2 existing methods of general knowledge in the art, right?

2) A patent that is merely a combination of two existing methods is considered routine exercise of general knowledge in the art and is also not patentable.

I was always under the (perhaps misguided) belief that this was one of the main REASONS for a patent. If you have come up with a way to combine existing materials or technologies in new and innovative ways you deserve to have the rights to that invention. The patent is given BECAUSE it is possible for another to copy it. You have the patent to prove that you were the 1st to do it in a certain manner. Heinlein even made that point in "Door Into Summer" if I recall correctly by mentioning "He had even used an electric typewriter for his keyboard chassis, giving credit on the drawings to an IBM patent series. That was smart, that was engineering: never reinvent something that you can buy down the street." And of course his "There wasn't really anything new in it; it was just the way I put it together. The 'spark of genius' required by our laws lay in getting a good patent lawyer." Now quoting Heinlein may not be a legal argument, but from my casual understanding of patent law that's just about what is involved.

...or doing what any sane person with skills in that area would do.

But that is something that really cannot be proven. You can always say that "Well of COURSE that's the way I would do it," but that just is because someone has made something obvious to you. Someone somewhere first came up with the idea and was the originator. It may not have been the person that applied for that patent (as in at least some of the examples you provided IMHO), but some had the idea first. This is why drugs end up going generic, because there is only one "obvious" way to make them. It doesn't mean there aren't more ways, it just means that the other ways are not as easy or as productive as the patented way. But I could be completely wrong on this.

Heinlein made another point on this when he pointed out in his book "Friday" that the Shipstone was not patented because part of the patent would involve the inventor basically giving away the secret of how it was done. It was an application of natural law, so therefore would be "obvious" to anyone with the same training, once they saw a method that did it.

I'm sure that somewhere there is a patent on the electromagnet that was issued years ago. I'm also sure that today we would say "Well, THAT was obvious." But it wasn't in the beginning.

While I do not necessarily agree or disagree with the merits of the case in question (Verizon v. Vonage or whatever the hell it's called), I think that this change in the way patents are applied could hurt the community at large. I do not like the ambiguity that this enters into the equation of whether or not something is patentable. I believe that this may actually stifle innovation in some few regards by making it uneconomical to innovate, in that it will be easier to just let someone else do the work and then steal it by saying "It's OBVIOUS!" This may also end up hurting small patent holders as well, as they are less able to afford the high priced attorneys to fight such actions. If you do the innovation, you should be credited with the invention and make some cash off it if you so choose.

In the interest of full disclosure, and PLEASE note that I have not commented in any way on the case Verizon v. Vonage (and really could care less), I am currently employed by Verizon. I also want to state that this statement is all my own. Verizon has nothing to do with it.

22 September 1995 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18970939)

On comp.dcom.telecom this post showed up on 22 September 1995. Hmm... sounds like prior art in the form of "discussed publicly".

Google Groups Archive of post:
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.dcom.telecom/b rowse_thread/thread/1227ba19866a3426/22f8ceae097f7 f6d [google.com]

I don't know who to submit this info to that can make a difference... anyone know the law firm defending Vonage in this case?

Hope it helps ...

fuck vonage (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983155)

I hope Vonage burns in hell for the way they treat their customers. Anyone here ever tried to cancel their service successfully? Wait until you hear about the surprise $40 "cancellation fee" that they charge you per month after you've cancelled your service. Fuck Vonage. Fuck them in their VoIP asshole.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?