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Vonage May Have Way Around Patent Disputes

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the clever-clever-company dept.

Businesses 87

nevillethedevil writes "Bloomberg is reporting that Vonage may have found a way around the current patent issues they have been facing with Verizon and others. They are applying technological solutions to a legal problem, changing the way that Vonage's communications software operates at a basic level to ensure that they no longer infringe on patent claims. 'Vonage's new technology can be installed through software downloads and shouldn't be costly to deploy, Citron said. The company will continue to appeal the court decision that requires it to pay Verizon damages for infringing patents on technology that translates Internet-based calls to standard lines.'"

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Way around... (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074673)

The could just tape a speaker to a phone, unless at&t has a patent on that too.

Re:Way around... (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074775)

The could just tape a speaker to a phone, unless at&t has a patent on that too.

Well there's always two cans and a string. Unless some kid has a patent on that too.

They could sell pet food online! (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19089531)

That's a Sure Thing! Y'know, with Web 2.0 and all that . . .

Vonage's shares... (2)

Jarn_Firebrand (845277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074697)

"Vonage shares have plunged 80 percent since the company went public a year ago."

Does anyone know why? Is that at all related to the case for patent disputes, or is it just because they're not selling that well?

If it's because of the patent disputes, that would be a shame. An innovative company losing money due to the U.S.' screwed up patent legislation...

Re:Vonage's shares... (3, Insightful)

p00pyhead (945377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075751)

Vonage has at least two problems.
1. They operate like Big-Business (2.5 million customers, and losing money like a drunken sailor)
2. Vonage is destoying Big-Telco's cash cow.

I think the technology is great, but Vonage will be taken down by people who have too much to lose if IP telephony becomes more prevalent and prices keep falling.

Thankfully, this tided will not be stopped. They are at least half a dozen vonages on the internet, and hundreds of vonages to come... until Telephone becomes just like today's email.
cheers,
p00p

Re:Vonage's shares... (2, Funny)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076045)

Full of penis enlargement advertisements?

I sure hope not.

Re:Vonage's shares... (1)

p00pyhead (945377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076129)

That was too funny.... I was talking about Telephones being comoditized to the point where one will not need a telephone provider... at least not one that empties your wallet. At that point, All you'll need is a phone number and all our phones are on the internet. We already know how to do this (http://www.enum.org) cheers p00p

Re:Vonage's shares... (1)

Flendon (857337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077373)

A quick check on the stock history shows that it started falling within a few days of the IPO due to investors selling short. It had already fallen 50% by the time of the first lawsuit and then another 50% from that point before the Verizon suit.

http://finance.google.com/finance?q=vonage&hl=en [google.com]

Totally Off-topic (-1, Offtopic)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074709)

Is there a reason that some stupid Intel Centrino ad covers a goodly chunk of the screen and can't be closed?

Re:Totally Off-topic (3, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074761)

What ad [adblockplus.org] ?

Blame Flash on Linux. (0, Offtopic)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074763)

My guess is you're running Flash9 on Linux like me. The implementation is more than a little buggy.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19074797)

Flash on Vista is doing it to me, too.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (2, Insightful)

Sergey23 (1055324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074799)

I'm viewing this on a machine running XP and the same damned thing happens.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (2, Interesting)

XiticiX (712612) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074809)

Nah I'm using XP and whatever most recent version of flash is. I hate it when ads interfere with websites. If this wasn't /., I wouldn't be coming back.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074843)

What's special about this site? Not tired of Russia verbing you?

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075579)

Running Opera [opera.com] on Win2k. No add, period. Enabled JavaScript (cringe), turned on Flash (shudder), enabled pop-ups (cringe, shudder) and refreshed page 5 times. Still no ads. Ah, bliss.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (1)

allthingscode (642676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074943)

Happening on Win2k as well.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075067)

it's happening in lynx too.

wait that's a smudge on the screen.

Re:Blame Flash on Linux. (0)

drewski3420 (969623) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075785)

Something buggy on Linux?!?!?!?!

What a liar, everybody knows that things can only be buggy on Windows.

Re:Totally Off-topic (3, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074791)

Because slashdot has sold out!!

Actually slashdot uses some dynamic ads that simply trust the ad provider won't do shit like that. The admins here will fix it soon I bet.

Re:Totally Off-topic (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074861)

I've had it happen at odd occasions over the last year. I don't think they're fixing it, unless you've redefined fixing to mean "counting their stacks of ad cash."

Re:Totally Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19076711)

psst.. adblock plus for firefox...

Re:Totally Off-topic (1)

Chaymus (697182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074931)

Click on the title and bring it up in a new window. It's pretty lame.

Re:Totally Off-topic (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075049)

I don't see that ad. However, awhile back I saw some sort of moving ad zipping across the screen. Reminded me of those "punch the monkey" ads. I closed the browser and went off to another site. I suppose I should have noticed WTF the ad was, so I know NEVER to buy anything from that company!

Re:Totally Off-topic (0)

user317 (656027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075063)

what adds? oh yea, i have add block plus [mozilla.org] ;)

Re:Totally Off-topic (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075731)

Adblock and Noscript are your Firefox friends!

Thanks to them, I barely remember what you are complaining about....give them a try!

Re:Totally Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19076025)

Try a hosts file [wikipedia.org] . I don't see those types of ads anymore.

Hired SCO Developers (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074721)

With their vast experience of finding copywrite-infringing code - they found the offending 3 lines of codes in a few hours. // Copywrite 1997 Bell Atlantic
if (switch = "5eSS") {
phone_home("Bell Atlantic Law Dept", hostname);
} //

Or they may not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19074747)

Golly, this sure is exciting!

Re:Or they may not. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19074833)

No what be exciting is 8 niggers in da prison shower with you, trading you like that stock market and fucking dat ass so hard you will bleed for 3 weeks. We ain't gonna stop either, it's gonna be you and us stretching out that anus all night long. 7pm *wink*

Signed,
The Exciting Niggers

Re:Or they may not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075745)

black-on-white homo rape is not funny.

Re:Or they may not. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19077061)

I was prison-raped by a bunch of niggers while I was in prison. On "hacking" charges that were later vacated and expunged due to a DA hiding evidence. I got AIDS. The DA? He didn't get fired, he didn't get reprimanded. Hell, he's now an "honorable" judge. And I've got AIDS because some niggers used my ass like their personal fuck toy. But payback is a bitch. I'm planning on raping his wife and daughter. Let's see how they like AIDS.

Re:Or they may not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19077811)

We be wearing da condoms for you. 11pm?

Signed,
The Safe Rape Niggers

Two Useful Links (5, Informative)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074859)

Of course there's a way around it! It's software after all.

I worked in a company that did software in the banking/finance world and the lawyer literally spent all her time working with engineering to figure ways around patents or otherwise write code that stuck to as many standards as legally possible.

Apparently this presented great complexity from a coding perspective.

Two informative links for those that want a bit of substantive background on the topic.
http://ipurbia.com/2007/03/verizon-patent-analysis .html [ipurbia.com]

http://herot.typepad.com/cherot/2007/04/verizon_se rvice.html [typepad.com]

That this kind of litigation has to happen at all is another indicator of how bad the business climate is in the U.S.

Re:Two Useful Links (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075213)

I would read the background in the links with a grain of salt. The author of the top one missed the well known industry fact of "Noone in his sane mind sues Level3 on VOIP IP". I bet a lot of people had the itch, but AFAIK noone ever did.

The reason is that Level3 once upon a time bought one of the first softswitch developers. AFAIK it ever tried to use it in production, but it can still use it as a great defensive legal weapon.

If Verizon tries to sue Level3 it will be presented with code which does what is described in some of their patents and is dated at least several years prior to that. So while I agree that Vonage is an obvious "soft target" the conclusion that there are "other" targets is fairly off the mark.

Missing The Point (2, Interesting)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075367)

If Verizon tries to sue Level3 it will be presented with code which does what is described in some of their patents and is dated at least several years prior to that.

I wish Verizon would sue Level3, but they won't. They'll sue every ISP/VOIP provider that doesn't pay the Verizon Patent Tax. That costs them a couple of lawyers salaries for a huge return.

bullshit (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076039)

If Verizon tries to sue Level3 it will be presented with code which does what is described in some of their patents and is dated at least several years prior to that.

So what? If it's not been disclosed, it doesn't matter.

Re:bullshit (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079533)

Not quite so. There was a commercial product implementing the function. So as a matter of fact the disclosure has occurred.

Re:bullshit (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079569)

Not quite. Making a commercial product does put you at risk of losing patentability, but it may not be sufficient to establish prior art. It's kind of a worst-of-both-worlds situation. So, either publish or patent.

What other patents are they violating? (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074913)

It's too bad the new approach violates patents from Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple...

Re:What other patents are they violating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075083)

It's too bad the new approach violates patents from Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple...
I realize this is supposed to be a joke but you state it as if it were fact. There is a very thin line between Funny and Flaimbait and I really think you crossed it.

Re:What other patents are they violating? (2, Interesting)

lothar97 (768215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075201)

I have to agree with this one, it's likely that whatever they're doing may infringe someone else's patent. Then again, perhaps Vonage has learned its lesson and have properly licensed the new technology that is being implemented.

A final point, Vonage better beware of the doctrine of equivalents [wikipedia.org] . The doctrine of equivalents holds a party liable for patent infringement even if the infringing device/process does not fall within the literal scope of the patent's claims, but accomplishes the equivalent to the claims. It holds that if the patent claims A, B, C and D to accomplish E, and your product does B, C, and F to accomplish E, then you're liable under the doctrine of equivalents.

Re:What other patents are they violating? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076281)

You are a Patent Lawyer, yes?

I thought so...

Re:What other patents are they violating? (2, Interesting)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076403)

Is that doctrine actually good for anything besides stifling innovation? I mean, shouldn't we be encouraging people to come up with new methods that produce the same result in a way that isn't already patented?

Short-term solution (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19074997)

This just means that 1) Vonage's new implementation could unknowingly fall under somebody else's patent, and they'd have to play the whole game over again, and 2) Vonage will patent their new implementation (to try to avoid this mess again, since that will at least make it so that only pre-May-2007 patents can sink Vonage), but that will just cause more headaches for the next organization who thinks that implementing VoIP/POTS integration can be done in an obvious / non-patentable way.

The Patent System Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075057)

So they found a way around the patent, possibly expanding the knowledge in the field by discovering a new solution. Good for them! How do people read this in a manner that would be critical of the patent system?

Re:The Patent System Works (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076455)

How do people read this in a manner that would be critical of the patent system?
It was working just fine before, and there was no good reason to put all those customers in jeopardy of losing their phone service (or having to pay more to license something as obvious as sending audio over a network). And it's just as likely that the workaround isn't a "new solution", but a cheap hack to accomplish the same thing in a way that's just barely different enough to avoid the patent - perhaps even a less efficient way that no one would consider using if not for that patent.

Re:The Patent System Works (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078693)

I figured if the patent is on translating IP address to telephone numbers, Vonage just needs to translate IP addresses to account numbers and then translate the account numbers to telephone numbers. Easy!

patent workarounds... (4, Interesting)

moochfish (822730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075069)

How come you read about companies violating patents one day and then finding "work arounds" the next? Seriously, if a patented technology is a crucial component in an application, how is it that the expected reaction is to bypasses it and yet keep the application functioning *exactly* like it was before.

If that doesn't show that software patents are bogus, I don't know what will.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075307)

The patent system incentivizes would-be infringers to "invent around." Indeed, it's arguably one of the goals of the patent system. That is, one of the benefits of having patents is that it forces inventors to invent some more. This has lots of benefits:
* it requires others to think about the problem more
* it often produces newer, better, more efficient solutions
* it opens up opportunities in fields where it would have been cost prohibitive to even explore (but for the "rent" imposed by a patent)

The same thing has been going on for decades in every industry, not just software. There are entire engineering firms that are dedicated to just that pursuit.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075677)

Where is your proof for your second claim? It MAY produce a better, more efficient solution, but a "work around" is just that, working around a roadblock. I would really doubt that it often creates better solutions. And your third claim is just bullshit.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075843)

True. I said it often has that result. You don't need to look to software to see companies inventing around. It's happening in almost every competing product and design. However, that doesn't mean that there IS another a way.

Also, I think that the point is not that you implement "work arounds" but rather that you "invent around" a patent. However, as with everything, it's an economic decision. In the case where there is NOT a viable work around, enter license agreements or see the third point.

As to my third claim, what can I say, market forces?

As an aside, you can obvious tell the bias of the slashdot crowd given the fact that the worst posts that are the most virulently anti-patent seem to start out at 2+.

Re:patent workarounds... (0)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076633)

I'm sorry, I stopped reading at "incentivizes."

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076995)

it incentivizes "inventing around" existing patents because if your idea is new YOU can patent it! Often the ideas "invented around" are good for the company and take it in new directions, with new experience. In the business environement the goal is to then turn marketing around to suit your invention.

I the last company I worked at make parts for people. We had one large customer stupid enough to fire all their chief engineers and just milk the product. Those engineers cashed in there options and opened their own company making the same product, funnier yet was the that the work they did to get around THEIR OWN PATENTS!!!! AFTER they were forced out was BETTER than what the old company was selling. It's a great example of how the system works for bad and good. The design arguments were hillarious... after all, when the patent lawyers came calling they were refuting their own patents!!! It was brilliant to see the products be re-engineered from scratch all over again, while the new company mopped the floor with the old one.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077455)

it incentivizes "inventing around" existing patents

I think his point was that he'd have preferred that the OP phrase it differently. Perhaps "Gives incentive to..." rather than the tortured "incentivizes."

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076955)

The patent system incentivizes would-be infringers to "invent around." Indeed, it's arguably one of the goals of the patent system. That is, one of the benefits of having patents is that it forces inventors to invent some more.

Sadly in the software world that equals more bloat and slower code. To illustrate this point I have produced the following flawless step-by-step plan:

1. Company X patents a part of their software
2. Company Y is making a competing product and is forced to "innovate" around the patent roadblocks. Company Y then patents said "innovations".
3. Company Z is making a competing product and is forced to "innovate" around the patent roadblocks, and around Company Y's workarounds. Company Z then patents said "innovations".
...
999999999. The year is 2500, web browsers take up 500 PB and have less functionality than Lynx.
1000000000. Profit!

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

CryptoRAT (535475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078425)

Would it not be possible for Company Z to 'innovate' around the patent roadblocks of Company X resulting in different innovations than Company Y came up with? In this case the bloating is somewhat limited (since at some point you run out of "innovations").

Re:patent workarounds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19077137)

The patent system incentivizes would-be infringers to "invent around." Indeed, it's arguably one of the goals of the patent system. That is, one of the benefits of having patents is that it forces inventors to invent some more.

Of course the other goal is to encourage inventors to LICENSE their technology for reasonable amounts....

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

CodeMunch (95290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075441)

OR if you need to work harder(devise ridiculous scheme) to not use the OBVIOUS solution, the patent is heading on a path of self-invalidation, isn't it?

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075669)

Well, your logic is somewhat circular. If it is legally determined "obvious" then, yes, it'll be invalid. But the fact that a patent covers the easy way to do something doesn't make it legally "obvious" or "invalid." I'd also argue that it's not at all clear which way the fact that there is not another easy way cuts. It could very well mean that the putative-inventor was actually a genius and found the only reasonable way. That's something that should enjoy a benefit.

Finally, as with any other sort of trespass, you can usually pay for the right to use the easy way. In real property they're called easements. In the IP world, it's called a license. The good thing about the IP world is that (at least for patents) you're not paying for forever.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078281)

hmmm you have hit upon a fascinating loophole. I wonder if this would apply to more traditional patents as well? Could I get your expert opinion on possibly reinventing an apparatus like a wheel and yet it would be in an octagonal formulation rather than a circumferal... it would in fact serve the same purpose and in some specific scenarios (such as in a roadway with an aligned 'teeth' configuration) it may in fact be more efficient than said 'wheel'.

Hmmm it occurs to me that there may be more than one way to skin a cat as well.... possibly could you aid me in determining a non-obvious method that could be patented?

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078423)

The work around to the wheel is simple. You just need a shape that has ~100k flat sides. No round services at all, yet it work just as well provided the size isn't too big. If it is, you must implement the technology of using more than 100k sides.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

telso (924323) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080019)

Actually, your argument shows how patents on methods aren't bogus. A patent that protects a method does just that: it protects *one way* of doing something. If it's "obvious", then it shouldn't be patentable. But if it isn't, then there's the innovation you wanted the patent system to produce. Clearly the problem is the definition of obvious, but if something really isn't obvious then we should reward people for spending time producing something truly not obvious. If there's another way to implement the method, then people will try to find it, and when they do we'll have even more methods than before. If they can't find another method, then the original one was truly innovative.

Look at sorting, for example. Some of the methods seem pretty obvious and based on the logical way we sort things in life (take bucket sort (anything alphabetically ordered)), but some of them seem like they would take a fair amount of thought to produce (take comb sort [wikipedia.org] , which wasn't described until 1991). (Then again, Library sort [wikipedia.org] only being proposed in 2004 might defeat my argument.)

I'm not saying software patents are a good idea; they're only good if they spur innovation more than not having them, which a number of researchers have shown (or "shown", if you disagree) isn't the case. But if you couldn't patent a method, and most software patents do that, you could very well argue that many of the innovations in, say, chemistry might not have happened. Just because you redefine obvious or remove patents from software doesn't mean you should throw the whole patent system out with the bathwater.

Also, your straw man doesn't hold. You assume that patented technology is crucial, and then say it isn't crucial and in fact has *exactly* no effect. Then it's not crucial.

Re:patent workarounds... (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080517)

If somebody were to patent a process that involves converting thing A into thing J, that patent could be circumvented by a process that converts thing A into thing B, which then converts it into thing C, and so on into J. Each step would have to be distinct enough to bear little resemblance to the initial A-to-J conversion, but the end result would be the same. The application won't function "exactly" like it did before, it might be slower (take an extra fraction of a second to connect a call) or take up more memory (require new VOIP connectivity devices), but the result is essentially the same.

I think that circumvention is an interesting challenge, too. Good mental exercise.

Vonage is being killed by Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075171)

They have screwed up everything, not just with Verizon but with the IPO, investor perception and customers. If you are a pension fund manager and you want to make a play to earn money on the shift to VoIP, you will not buy Vonage and so for this reason, Vonage is dead, dead, dead.

W00;t fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075177)

is mired 18 an [goat.cx]

YUO FAIL IT? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075283)

contaminated While

fuck vonage (0, Flamebait)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075361)

I hope Verizon has their way with Vonage. Vonage is a horrible company that deserves to be shut down. Anyone ever been thru the account cancellation maze with them? Jesus...its like trying to bathe a stray tom cat.

Offtopic Trivial Info Message: (4, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075877)

"....bathe a stray tom cat."

Try a window screen. As long as the screen itself is not resting on a solid surface (ie: up on small blocks) this works most of the time. The theory is that the cat will cling to the screen and allow you to bathe, examine, draw blood, admin meds, etc. Works amazingly well!

why yes IAAVT (I Am A Veterinary Technician)!

Re:Offtopic Trivial Info Message: (1)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077165)

I wish I had mod points right now. The left-turn you took was possibly the funniest thing I've read all day. :)

Re:Offtopic Trivial Info Message: (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077301)

Glad I could make your day!

BTW, it's true, though I wasn't trying for funny. Even funnier is actually seeing it in action!

Two minor things I forgot: 1. don't work well with declawed cats, 2. have to set the screen on solid surface before they will let go.

Hey thanks! (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078805)

About the coolest simplest thing I have learned in a long time!

Re:fuck vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19075883)

Vonage is horible? They're nothign comapred to Verizon. Fuck verizon.

Re:fuck vonage (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19076081)

apropos bathing a stray tom cat, us niggers gonna be fuckin yo lily white ass all night long, honkey! You gonna look like da goatse guy when we's thru wid you!

Re: vonage (1)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 7 years ago | (#19076293)

Anyone ever been thru the account cancellation maze with them?

Actually, just yesterday. It took 2 phones calls over 2 evenings to convince them that if I tranferred my number 3 weeks ago I really did have no service anymore for them to bill me for. I didn't have any problems with Vonage before that, but after the experience of convincing them to stop billing me for service I didn't have anymore, I'd never use them again.

Brent

Go Vonage! (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075645)

Go Vonage. I doubt anyone believes for a moment that Verizon is doing anything with these patents to make VoIP calls, cheaper, better, or easier to use. Most likely just the opposite -- which is completely anti-consumer!

Re:Go Vonage! (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19075703)

Yeah, but the point of patents isn't to benefit consumers, it's to benefit the company that invented the technology.

Re:Go Vonage! (2, Insightful)

liam193 (571414) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077099)

Not exactly. Actually, in the USA it is for neither of those reasons.

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;


The key portion here is the reason for which Congress is allowed to secure the rights to authors and inventors. The purpose is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. I think the problem that many who post on here have with patent and copyright laws in general is that often they are imposed not to promote the progress but to stifle it. As a result, it would stand to reason that Congress doesn't really have the right to provide a patent for that purpose and therefore the granting of the patent would be unconstitutional. While this is not the way our legal system sees it, it is the way the language was written by our founding fathers.

Re:Go Vonage! (1)

Scamwise (174654) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077515)

I thought their only purpose was to encourage invention for the benefit of the consumer...

Heads up, Vonage is a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19076637)

Ironically I just canceled a Vonage service a few minutes ago. It took over twenty minutes of threats and demanding the service be canceled.At one point I said you have 60 seconds to agree to cancel me or I file in small claims court. I started a count down, 50, 40, 30, 20. At 20 seconds I told them simply I'm taking you to court and I'm deadly serious. That's when the tactic shifted and they said I'd have to pay a $39.95 disconnect fee. That's when I got angry. Things got very heated. They insisted it was just three paragraphs down in the user agreement. After the call I dug into it and it was 3/4 of the way down buried in page after page of legalese. I double checked all my e-mails from them and the fee was never mentioned and the reps don't inform you. With tax it wound up being nearly $45 to cancel the service. They fought with me and kept giving me the hard sell inspite of repeated threats of a lawsuit. They are very scary and remind me of the old AOL cancellation hassles I heard so much about. The service was the worst phone service I ever had. Bad quality, constant dropped calls and the box kept loosing authorization. If you want a VOIP phone service check out Packet 8. I had them a few years ago and I had zero problems and the quality was good. Also they're cheaper. I needed a VOIP line six months ago in a matter of hours so I went with Vonage. Biggest phone mistake of my life. I do plan to start a website informing the public. I'm sure there are a few around. Burying fees in user agreements is pretty sleazy. I get three or four a day averaging five to ten pages. They know most people don't have the time to read them. If it wasn't a scam there would be a notice in the e-mails or their reps would tell you. Burying near the end of a user agreement is intentional. Especially when they fight you about canceling the service.

Re:Heads up, Vonage is a scam (4, Informative)

citizentim (1046970) | more than 7 years ago | (#19077325)

I'm sure the cancellation mess was frustrating, but I take exception to your assessment of the quality of Vonage's phone service. I have no idea why you had so many problems with yours, but I have been using Vonage for nearly two years now, and it is by far the best phone service I have ever used. The calls are nearly always crystal clear, except when I have a bittorrent session running, thus sucking up all my bandwidth. It never loses its connectivity, unless I lose power. The call-forwarding and simul-ring features have made managing my phone numbers incredibly easier, and the convenience of receiving my voicemail through e-mail is wonderful. Free overseas calls (at least to some countries), and you can take your home phone with you wherever you go, given the right VOIP adapter. Adding a second phone number is a piece of cake (although admittedly having a secondary number converted to a primary number is quite cumbersome, and requires a good amount of arguing with some blokes ostensibly in India). I have even been able to use a modem through it with no trouble (after dialing *99). I've gotten several months of free service by referring other folks to Vonage, who have also been very happy with the service. There may certainly be better VOIP providers than Vonage (I really don't know), but I would highly encourage anyone here to ignore this comment, as I am quite sure there are many other customers who have had a great experience with them.

Re:Heads up, Vonage is a scam (1)

tsdw (937315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079599)

[quote]It took over twenty minutes of threats and demanding the service be canceled.At one point I said you have 60 seconds to agree to cancel me or I file in small claims court. I started a count down, 50, 40, 30, 20 [/quote] I'm not surprised they gave you a hard time - you are the customer support nightmare, I would have accidentally hung up on you [quote]have to pay a $39.95 disconnect fee. That's when I got angry. Things got very heated. They insisted it was just three paragraphs down in the user agreement. After the call I dug into it and it was 3/4 of the way down buried in page after page of legalese[/quote] Of course you didn't read the agreement, no one really does anymore, but that doesn't mean you don't have to abide by it. No matter where the fee was 'buried' Your hardware troubles are pretty isolated, Id say it was clueless user syndrome if it wasn't just phone service.

Vonage is a leech (-1, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078003)

Vonage came up with a business model that requires the existing phone companies to exist - they do not displace them until every single person has converted. And Vonage doesn't have the corporate capability to convert everyone. So Verizon, SBC and the others are a necessary component of Vonage's business.

Next, let's assume Verizon went out of the telephone business. Who would then own and maintain the copper used by all of Vonage's DSL customers? Nobody. Because it is assured to be a money-losing business. The only reason it makes sense to maintain all that copper today is because of the telephone network that operates over it. So again, the current telephone companies are a necessary part of Vonage's business.

I am pretty sure if you read their IPO prospectus or initial pitches to VC folks you will find it clearly stated that they have no intention of providing a replacement to the existing telephone network. Their plan is just skimming off the top layer of telephone customers with big bills that will see an improvement switching to a untariffed supplier.

What would happen if Vonage became the predominant telephone service supplier in a state, even a little place like Vermont? You can bet the Vermont PUC (or whatever they call it) would then immediately inform Vonage that they have to supply free service to some people and submit all their rates to the PUC for approval, just like the predominant telephone carriers do today. Why? Because that is how telephone service got to be both cheap and universal in the US today. Do you not think the states will force this back on VOIP providers when (if) they become big enough? That would virtually erase any profit Vonage has today and put them on an equal footing with Verizon, SBC, etc.

No, Vonage is a leech skimming high value customers away from the telecom companies and using the telecom companies own infrastructure to service these customers. They can't replace Verizon because Verizon supplies their customers with cheap DSL service, subsidized by telephone service.

It is an interesting business model but one doomed to failure. Some people will get rich off the plan in the short term, but it can't last. And you can bet Verizon has decided the time has come to end the game and remove Vonage.

Re:Vonage is a leech - NOT! (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078737)

Then maybe Verizon should not subsidize their DSL service? Verizon DSL should provide access to the Internet. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

If Verizon DSL is a money loser, WTF are they doing supplying it?? It doesn't make sense. Companies are there to make money. They make money with DSL subscriptions. Yes, including Verizon. Verizon just wants the cake and eat it too!

Anyway, the future is digital phone service with analog maybe as a backup for things like 911. Digital is more efficient and better quality (ie. voice quality more consistent and better but jitter is a problem in current implementation - the latter can be fixed in digital, the former cannot be fixed cheaply in analog!).

Vonage is NOT a leech. Verizon just want to pull a fast one on their customers. They would prefer that *every* single service you get over their copper is from them. So if Verizon expands to book selling, would that mean that one cannot get a book from B&N or Amazon? According to you, B&N and Amazon are leeching Verizon's hypothetical book selling business...

The future doesn't wait for you or Verizon. It just happens. Catch up or be left behind.

Re:Vonage is a leech - NOT! (1)

liam193 (571414) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080777)

Agreed. If the DSL service doesn't make money without the Phone service, then business model that is messed up is with the carrier.

If a DSL, Cable Modem, or FIOS service does not pay for itself purely based on the data service, then the provider is not charging enough for the data portion. If you take the cost of a DSL line and say it is X then there should be a cost Y and Z which amount to the data and the voice portion. If you want to expand it one step further you could add in the cost of the copper as a W. At any case X' (the marked up version of X) should work as the price for the customer for the whole thing and likewise, the marked up version Y' + W' should work for the customer price of the data only portion. If you don't have a way to determine those costs then something is wrong with your business model.

I understand that there are "market pricing" situations that make things a bit more complicated than that, but in the world of the physical transport to the house, there is usually only two delivery services so there's not a fierce competition in that area.

Re:Vonage is a leech (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078947)

What a load of twaddle. If you want to be a sucker paying the telco's rates, go ahead.

Anyway, your premise about the maintenance of the copper is utter BS. Vonage requires that one has an internet connection. That is where the telco or cable company or whoever is paid.

I pay my ISP (again, not the telco) for DSL service. They pay a wholesale rate for leasing the DSLAM port, etc, to the telco. The telco is still making money, but without having to provide support and infrastructure. So it's better than if I were a direct customer! The telcos around here offer "dry DSL"... that's DSL without providing a dialtone too. If I didn't have Vonage, I could just stick with a mobile phone... is wireless phone service also a leech? It would be according to your [illogical] argument.

Re: I have both (2, Insightful)

Eric Coleman (833730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079177)

I am both a Vonage and Verizon customer, and there is no traditional concept of copper at all involved that needs to be maintained. I have business class internet over fiber optic cable to the house. Verizon is the data provider and Vongage is the phone provider.

Anyone that gets a traditional phone in this city will have fiber optic cable routed to the house, there is no copper anymore, and the phone line terminates into a box in one's garage where the fiber from the alley terminates.

Regardless of which company I pick, the signal from the phone to digital data is either converted in a little blue linksys box in the house or in a little cream colored box in the garage. Either way, it's digital before it leaves the house.

In terms of features, price, and flexibility, Vongage wins hands down over Verizon.

If Vongage is a "leech", then so is Slashdot and Google and just about every other usefull site on the internet as they call come down the same tube of light in a digital format.

As far as I see it, the internet infrastructure should be considered like railroads and highways. No one company should dictate what travels through them, as they are too fundamental to our society.

Does anyone really consider pizza delivery companies to be leeches of the road system?
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