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 Goes To Court III - The AT&T Suit

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the this-story-is-getting-old dept.

Patents 113

kickabear writes "AT&T has filed a lawsuit against Vonage, claiming patent infringement. This is the third major lawsuit to have been brought against Vonage by a major phone company. Vonage lost the previous two lawsuits, brought by Sprint-Nextel and Verizon. How much more money can Vonage afford to give away? How can Vonage educate a jury on prior art? 'It said in a filing to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission that AT&T is seeking injunctive relief, compensatory and treble damages and attorneys' fees in unspecified amounts. Vonage said the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin on October 17.'"

cancel ×

113 comments

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

surprisationingness (2, Interesting)

sh3l1 (981741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052211)

I'd be really surprised if they survive this one.

Simple solution (3, Funny)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052273)

And here is the code: -

If (court_fines > available_cash) then

# increase fees paid by customers

(monthly_subscription_fee = monthly_subscription_fee * 1.25)

end

Some code would of course be responsible to check whether customers are beginning to jump ship after say a month.

Guys, they will survive this one.

surprisationingnes-ssummaryless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052281)

The funny thing about the "prior art" claim in the summary is if you go and read it? It actually supports the patents in question. Maybe the OP needs the education? Not the jury.

i went to the bathroom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052213)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Patent # (2, Interesting)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052237)

Anyone know the # of the patent?

Re:Patent # (4, Informative)

BrianWCarver (569070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052593)

6,487,200 [uspto.gov] The full Complaint [sharealike.org] (pdf)

Re:Patent # (3, Interesting)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054513)

The patent (upon a very brief read by unprofessional eyes) seems to broadly be about packet-based voice over IP (well, isn't that all Voice of IP?)

So AT&T completely owns VOIP? That seems pretty damn broad to me, or am I missing that the patent is somehow more narrow than that?

Re:Patent # (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055047)

You have to read the claims to know exactly what the patent covers. (I don't know what you read but stating that you are unprofessional makes me think you may not know this.) The specification (everything else in the patent) can say whatever it wants but only the claims can be infringed. It often does take a patent professional to tell you exactly what the claims are claiming though.

can't beat em, sue em! (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052253)

and people think RIAA are evil cocksuckers, teleco company's leave them for dead.

Re:can't beat em, sue em! (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053363)

In the end it seems likely that the alleged patent violations are harming the economy and development in a country in decline. The whole system seems corrupt and there are fights over the remains.

The US dollar has fallen to almost half it's value compared to the Swedish Krona in a few years. It's falling compared to other economies too.

To cut the losses, both economical and trust-wise it's time for a complete rebuild of the legal system regarding property rights and estimation of value loss. Suing people for ridiculous amounts of money won't help either. Software patents should be declared invalid - retroactively so that all court rulings regarding software patent breaks can be invalidated.

And the practice of being able to pick patent fees from the users of a technology that has a certain patent is completely hopeless. If anybody should be held responsible it's the manufacturer - not the user. If the manufacturer is in a foreign country - use the customs office to take care of the problem for all future cases.

Especially software patents are bad - because they often are applied to a certain detail, and the patents should have been dismissed as obvious. The effort to write code may be great for one programmer but made on the fly by another without even realizing that the first programmer has gotten a patent for the solution. Who is to blame? Who is responsible? Is it really "protection of assets" going on or is it just a spanner in the works of development and ultimately decreases the ability of the country to compete on the international market?

What most rulings in cases regarding software patents fails to take into account is that software is a volatile international thing - almost like the air we breathe or the water we drink - and it has no boundaries. (unless you build a really great firewall or resort to computers only able to run a nationally assigned OS and programming language). Each case where a patent software is granted is another nail in the coffin for development.

The use of patents forces you to look back all the time to make sure nobody infringes on your patent or tries to make it invalid. The current economic lifespan of a patent should be reduced to 3 to 4 years after which it only causes harm. If less effort is put into patents and more into development you will see a lot of more development done.

Re:can't beat em, sue em! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053663)

In the end it seems likely that the alleged patent violations are harming the economy and development in a country in decline. The whole system seems corrupt and there are fights over the remains. The US dollar has fallen to almost half it's value compared to the Swedish Krona in a few years. It's falling compared to other economies too.
I'm not sure what economic crackpipe you're smoking from, but the bolded text has nothing to do with the rest of your argument. Patents are quite possibly the last thing to blame for the weakness of the American dollar.

I would've thought that there was at least one issue that's a bit more obvious... like the ~3 trillion in additional debt that have been added during Bush's Administration.

Long story short: many countries that were buying US debt decided to slow their buying, stop it, or even sell some previous dollar purchases.

Maybe the growth from a restructured patent system would repair the weakness of the dollar, but the currently SNAFU certainly isn't to blame. If you're going to go down that road, there are thousands of other (contradictory) things that anyone could claim "if you fix this, America will prosper!"

Let those without sin cast the first stone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052263)

Revenge? [fool.com]

Not newsworthy. (note the italics) (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052327)

TFAs are depressing and polarizing, but they're not news -- they're business as usual in the U$A.
Can't we get less depressing news for the weekend?

*Reaches for the Prozac*

Re:Not newsworthy. (note the italics) (1)

sleigher (961421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052797)

no gnews is good gnews with Gary Gnu!

Re:Not newsworthy. (note the italics) (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052935)

It's depressing for my entire family, that's who. We're all on Vonage. :(

Get In Line (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052331)

If Congress gets its act together and refuses to grant the telcoms immunity for helping to illegally wiretap U.S. citizens, it's going to be AT&T's turn in the barrel. Hope they brought lots of Vaseline.

Re:Get In Line (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054887)

I wouldn't bank on that. If anyone knows how to manipulate Congress it's AT&T.

Re:Get In Line (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056375)

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

As a Vonage Customer... (3, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052335)

As a Vonage Customer, I will continue to use their superior service, even if the price does have to increase.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1, Troll)

Damarkus13 (1000963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052447)

As a Vonage customer, I will continue to use their low quality service, so long as it still has the lowest pricetag.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052547)

As a Vonage customer, I will continue to use their low quality service, so long as it still has the lowest pricetag.
I've never had one single issue with Vonage, and it's the cheapest out of all of them. What have you had go wrong?

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1)

Ridor (14731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052839)

I've used vonage for three years. Not only is their service good, but they are much cheaper
than the service offered by the cable company(I have no interest in getting an old pots line again) and they have room to pass some costs along.
Instead of letting the marketplace decide, the telcos are using the courts to force their higher-priced and inferior service on consumers. Other examples are Verizon suing over the 700 mhz auction, and AT&T's attempt to silence criticism in forums.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052877)

Because of the exceptionally rude comments given to me previously on Slashdot for living in the New Orleans area (LOZL UR UNDER DA SEE LEFEL DUMASS, etc.), I'm going to post this as AC.

I lived in a suburb to the east of New Orleans called Chalmette. Chalmette was completely destroyed by Katrina. My father used his land line for business, so it was important to him that he get the telephone number back. My uncle used Vonage and evacuated with his VoIP router, so he kept his local number on the road as long as he had internet.

My father called Vonage wishing to get the same service, hoping to get his old local number back. They told him that they could transfer the number. They gave him service, but didn't transfer the number, which was the whole point of getting the service. When he called to fix the situation, they said they couldn't transfer the number without it being active, and they couldn't activate it; he had to call BellSouth to do so. So my dad called BellSouth and took out a cheap plan with them to cancel it in a month and switch over to Vonage. Unfortunately, after that, Vonage said they couldn't transfer the number. My father immediately canceled service, but they still demand that he pays for the VoIP service he never used. The conditions for getting the service were to have the old phone number, which they never provided. They lied about being able to transfer the number, they refused to forget about some sub-$100 bill, and they were aggressive on the phone. Last time I heard from my father about it, they were trying to pursue legal action. Screw them.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1)

RandomJoe (814420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054215)

I haven't had any major issues, but the audio quality is definitely lacking on occasion, with lots of glitches and echo. I'm not sure just why it happens, the bad times don't match my peak Inet usage so I guess it's an issue outside my home. And I can't use a modem on the line, even though they said I would be able to when I asked up front. (Not that I expected it to work, but they did say it would. I occasionally need to call older dialup systems for work. Now I VPN to a computer at the office with a regular POTS line.)

Long as Vonage is cheaper (and it is still significantly cheaper on the 500 min/mo plan) than cable, I'll keep it because I almost never use the phone. Were the cost to rise anywhere near what the cable company wants, I'd definitely switch back as I get better audio and can use the modem. The extra features Vonage offers are nice, but I find I don't use anything but CID anyway...

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056133)

I would guess that your ISP is screwing with your lines. The only time I have any audio problems with my line is when I am doing a massive download that is consuming all of my bandwidth. I have used fax machines on my Vonage line, which is basically a modem, and hand no problem, but if you are getting echoing, then it is not a surprise that the modem doesn't work.

It sounds like your ISP is a cable company with a competing service, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were intentionally screwing with your data. One way to find out is to take your Vonage box over to a friends house that is with a different ISP, and see if the problem goes away.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056791)

The only thing that interferes with my Vonage is if I am seeding a torrent at anything past 20kB/s. 768kb/s converts to roughly 96kB/s upload, so I guess (at max sound quality settings) Vonage needs a good portion of that to work with

It is the nature of the beast with shared lines though, if the guy in the apartment next to me was sharing a torrent at high bandwidth I guess I would be screwed then too.

Re:As a Vonage Customer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055621)

"I've never had one single issue with Vonage, and it's the cheapest out of all of them. What have you had go wrong?"
I don't know about him, I have some issues:

Call quality is mediocre.
Call setup is long.
Fax is unreliable.

It's better than at&t cell phone service, but that's not saying much.

Patents are Evil (4, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052349)

Stories like this are really starting to annoy me. So may times we hear that a company that is just doing good businees gets sued into obivion for no real good reason.

As I'm going through patent hell myself right now, I've come to the conclusion that patents solely exist to stifle and restrict innovation. They no longer protect the inventor in any way. The only people getting rich off of patents are the lawyers.

Patents have outlived their usefullness and the entire system should be scrapped.

Re:Patents are Evil (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052465)

Patents have outlived their usefullness and the entire system should be scrapped.

Welcome to ten years ago.

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053339)

That phrase is so fix minutes ago!

The little guys are Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052585)

"Stories like this are really starting to annoy me. So may times we hear that a company that is just doing good businees gets sued into obivion for no real good reason."

Robert W. Kearns agrees with you.

Re:Patents are Evil (5, Insightful)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052781)

In the narrow view of this scenario you seem to have a point. But in the grand view of all invention you have completely lost your footing. If a simple swap of patent ownership was made, you'd be happy to see Vonage protected by these old patents that they supposedly infringe.

The real problem is the requirement to maintain a patent. Companies seem to require no active use and no context definition for a given patent. I think reform would solve the problem, if it could include certain division of patenting, such as, into particular markets for requiring patent claims to specify rather detailed scenarios of use. Then in 10 years, if some new company comes along and uses the same technology for entirely different purposes, or in a different market, then the patent wouldn't apply to them.

Furthermore, if a company is awarded in any way shape or form a kind of monopoly (such as cable companies or telephone companies awarded "natural" monopolies due to the practical realities of running cables and pipes) then they should forfeit any and all patent rights until said monopoly is relinquished. Perhaps there could be some context rules for that as well. Say, if AT&T has any natural monopolies to provided internet access then any patents used for the purpose of doing business over the internet should be forfeit in return for the huge gift of that monopoly.

These or other ideas come and go. It's too bad nobody really cares besides the minorities that actually understand and see the impact. The masses, the ones who actually vote, never hear of this and thusly, don't care. Because the voters don't care, the politicians don't bother to address it for their resumé a.k.a. platform, because it's simply bad marketing. Even if it was a great and intelligent move, too many potential voters would see it as not in their interests and not vote. This is why politicians do such strange things. They are motivated to keep their jobs. Wouldn't you be?

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053369)

Good call dood. Although in some industries patents are useful when it comes to Software I don't think it is.

Perhaps it's because Software patents stops software evolving, the market(s) stop evolving good product and everybody just gets litigous. After the dust settles it takes a while for the market to get the shit products it should have been expecting in beta when the lawsuits began.

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054691)

Frankly, software patents make zero sense whatsoever in any realm, ever. The only exception I can think of is if you are patenting from the most global scope in a very specific situation. For example, if you invented 100% original hardware and patented the software interfacing methods for that hardware. This wouldn't really be a software patent, but some might misconstrue it that way.

The reason that software patents are nonsense has nothing to do with virtues of rights, sharing, innovation or any of that great argument fodder. The real reason is that the entire set of possible software invention is dictated by the platforms on which the software is written. Even the absolute most amazingly creative code still has to live in the confines of someone's artificial world. This is the opposite of the normal invention/patent reality in the universal scope. Someone can invent something that nobody has ever heard of or thought of, and had not placed any rules on. That's someone who deserves the rights to their invention for a while.

Software, on the other hand, is ultimately a really complicated color by numbers affair. Eventually all algorithms become obvious because they are all necessary for everything else. A great example of this is the linked list someone attempted or possibly successfully patented a little while back (I didn't follow up). Linked lists are an obvious solution to a certain requirement in a system that doesn't do well under certain conditions. I purposefully write that "vaguely" because it is a sentence that applies to every appropriately used or designed algorithm in modern computing. We don't attempt to achieve perfect hashes and tune our hash maps accordingly because it's neat. It's required to deal with sparse data structures in a relatively simple way. Unless the hardware provided a more direct method to accomplish such tasks. And hence my point, since the hardware presents a limit set of actions, the software written upon was already dictated by the hardware design, and therefore is already obvious and prior art. The entire theoretically provable set of possible software operations is finite due to its limited universe also being finite.

To think of a very simplified version of the same situation, you can take a Tetris board with all the pieces you want to have, and you'll still have a finite set of possible layouts. It is due to the design of the game. Just like the finite nature of software is due to the design of our current computing platforms, which are all (beside a few architectural variances) pretty much exactly the same.

So, to repeat myself one last time :) Patenting software makes no sense because no software can every truly be original. When the computers were designed, the possible software was determined. This is why copyright actually makes more sense. The individual organization of code and the utilization of all of the methods and algorithms is more a composition like notes in a song than an original invention like the television or telephone, which I intentionally choose as examples of original things invented by multiple people simultaneously.

One could argue that the entire reality as humans know it would then dictate all possible inventions that might be considered patentable. This isn't proven, and until it is, I stand by my theory. Possible actions in a computer is finite, possible actions in the real live universe is... who knows? infinite maybe...

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055003)

My bad, that line should have read...

Although in some industries patents are useful, when it comes to the Software industry I don't think they are.

I've got tonsilitis, so sorry about not previewing properly. Is it known how many algorithm's have been discovered so far in computer science?

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055227)

In Canada you cannot patent software on its own, simply because it does not pass the crieteria of being useful. Software on it's own does nothing and therefore is not useful.

Software can only be patented as part of an overall device that does something useful. So if you patented say a GPS unit that contained software that's fine as you can patent the entire device, but you couldn't patent just the software that was in the GPS unit. You could copyright it however.

Re:Patents are Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055891)

One question I never really see answered is how these patents and lawsuits will affect Vonage Canada.

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057005)

One question I never really see answered is how these patents and lawsuits will affect Vonage Canada.

I hope not at all. I refuse to give those evil bastards Bell Canada another cent for as long as I live.

Re:Patents are Evil (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054937)

They are motivated to keep their jobs. Wouldn't you be?

Well, the way the system was originally set up, they weren't supposed to be concerned about that. The idea was that individuals (from all walks of life) would serve a term in Congress, go back to whatever it was they did prior to that, and then live under the laws they made. It was a natural negative feedback loop, and it was brilliant: chalk up another one for the Founders. Then the idea of a "career politician" or a "professional politician" came into play, and now we see these bastards subverting the law and doing everything they can to get re-elected. There's one, and only one way to solve that particular governmental problem: term limits. Congress did it for the office of President, now it's time they do it for themselves.

Don't see that happening in the near future though. They're too motivated to keep their jobs and that's the problem.

Re:Patents are Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21054957)

The real problem is the requirement to maintain a patent. Companies seem to require no active use and no context definition for a given patent.


I'm not entirely sure that it would be a good thing to impose such a requirement. Assume for the moment that we can fix the USPTO and all patents granted are legitimate. Then allowing them to be bought and sold, regardless of use, is a way to put them in the place where they're most valued (exactly analogous to carbon credits). So the problem, then, is that suing provides more value than actually executing the patent. Part of the solution therefore should be severe damage caps, with possibly a "use requirement" to raise said caps (so an innovating business would be protected). But a strict use requirement on the validity of the patent itself doesn't let the patent be bought, held, and sold to companies that actually want to use them.

That's just my anonymous humble opinion.

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055335)

But a strict use requirement on the validity of the patent itself doesn't let the patent be bought, held, and sold to companies that actually want to use them.

The problem with your logic is that you are assuming that companies should be allowed to create patents that are not useful to them. If a patent wasn't useful then they wouln't implement them, and therefore the patent in that case should be invalidated.

If there was a short time period (say 2-3 years) where they were given the chance to put the patent in active use before invalidation, then if they had no plans to market a device with the patent, then they could sell the patent to someone who would. If you further imposed the requirement that you actually need a functioning prototype that demonstrates the patent, then by selling it the purchasing company would have a functioning unit and still time to bring it to market and validate the patent for the full 20 years before it expires.

Or remove all patents and get rid of a large number of useless laywers and government personnel.

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055195)

In the narrow view of this scenario you seem to have a point. But in the grand view of all invention you have completely lost your footing. If a simple swap of patent ownership was made, you'd be happy to see Vonage protected by these old patents that they supposedly infringe.

Actually no. I've got no grudge against AT&T - I actually worked for them at one point in my career. I'm advocating the immediate cancellation of all patents (except design patents that actually take some creativity).

How about going back to the idea that you have to have a functioning prototype to get a patent? That would get rid of a lot of problems, including patent troll companies that exist solely to sue instead of actually create.

You were making some sense until your comment about the minorities..

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

Ozwald (83516) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057305)

I actually think software patents are a good thing if used properly (what we see here is misuse). Lets say I come up with a great idea. Under disclosure tell my friends, some potential customers, and get some short term investment money. Take time off work to get the patent filed, then look for bigger investors. If a corporation wants to buy or license it, the investors get a return and even if I never make the product I've officially succeeded as an inventor. Or I get more investment money from investors, I can pay for people and assets to make it. And the best part is I'm protected from competitors.

Except this doesn't happen.

Instead we have IBM collecting stupid ones for unknown reasons. Microsoft collecting them because they know they'll be sued broke if they don't. Opportunistic patent whores. Phone companies waiting for their ideas to succeed by others and suing them out of existance (Gif). Or web services preventing competitors from gaining traction in new business models. And yet the funny thing is that if a little guy like me creates a patent and ATT or Vonage implement it without my blessing I'm shit out of luck because I'm too small to fight them.

So, what I propose is to first abolish ALL new patents, terminate all patent lawsuits, eliminate any unreasonable royalties. Basically restart everybody with an even playing field.

Second, make invention a government concern. Every country in the world (well this is a lot to hope for... aka will never happen) work together to manage invention within their borders. When a citizen or business comes up with an idea, they go to their government who dedicates resources to help develop the idea. If this means a small guy like me, they provide experts and investment money who help produce and market the good ideas into the product or service. In return they get a slice of the revenue back. I get my idea out and making money and they get their investment back. If anybody duplicates the idea, even in another country, it is the job of the government to resolve it, and I can continue to do my job.

If a big corporation like IBM or Microsoft comes up with an idea, it's the same thing. They get some investment money to develop it (even if they don't need it), and get a slice of revenue. They and the government win too. The government helps them reduce the risk of trying new ideas and increased R&D will help every country in the long term.

I know nobody will agree with me or say it's possible. I know it's as likely as socialized health care in the United States and people will take advantage and abuse anything they can. But I do believe that ideas must be promoted and brilliant people need to be protected and rewarded. The current system only helps those with money and portfolio and screws the rest.

Oz

Re:Patents are Evil (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057569)

I actually think software patents are a good thing if used properly (what we see here is misuse). Lets say I come up with a great idea. Under disclosure tell my friends, some potential customers, and get some short term investment money.

But why bother with a patent? If it's a GUI idea, then you can get a design patent. If it's an algorithm, well you cannot patent math. If it's a better way of writing something, then the patent is unenforceable since you can always get the same output by writing it another way. Software patents are useless. Just market the idea as you propose and copyright your software. Companies will generally buy a great idea (or hire you) than try and spend time redoing it themselves. If it truly easy for any other software person to dupicate what you did, then it doesn't pass the criteria for non-obviosuness.

And yet the funny thing is that if a little guy like me creates a patent and ATT or Vonage implement it without my blessing I'm shit out of luck because I'm too small to fight them.

Not quite. They would sue you out of existance for violating their patents - even if you didn't infringe. They simply tie you up in courts until you are broke or cut a deal with them.

I agree with getting rid of patents, and your idea of government assistance already exists (at least it does here in Canada). If you have a good idea, you apply to the governemnt under one of the technology and innovation programs. If your idea passes a review panel, made up of people in the industry, you get a grant to develop the product. It helps small companies that are too small to afford full development programs by themselves.

2 years later: the bill (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052355)

Damages from patent infringement - $35
Attorney Fees - $550 million

The lawyers win again...

skunks (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052359)

Damn telcos took public infrastructure bought and paid for and built up over years and did diddly squat with it other than running it as a cash cow, and now for some magical reason they get to own all those pipes. Why is this?? Those pipes rightfully should be public infrastructure like the roads. I *clearly* remember before the big breakup having the rented hard wired phone, and lining up as a kid to talk to grandma with all the siblings for 30 seconds apiece because it cost so much for long distance. Comes along some companies like vonage who prove it can be done much cheaper and more efficiently, and they get sued.


We need the People's ubiquitous wireless mesh network, something we can use for voice and data and just "route around" the current information bottlenecks, which are the big telcos with the entrenched monopoly mindset and WAY too much power in the legislative process. Now watch these assholes gobble up more of the so called publics airwaves in the next spectrum auction, so they can lock in more control and profits. Screw it, they should be disallowed from even bidding, it should just be mandated it is for the creation of the universal wireless network, something needing not much at all in the way of plutocratic middlemen companies and their precious stolen infrastructure.

Re:skunks (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053615)

If I ever have a ridiculous amount of money, or if I ever am in a position to influence such a person, I would entirely suggest a Johnny WAP-Seed crew to find effective ways to cover even one town. Just to show whats possible.

People's Ubiquitous Wireless Mesh Network, eh? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053749)

P.U. WMN doesn't seem like the best acronym to get the ladies on board, but then again, judging by my own romantic life, ladies aren't going to dig us no matter how cool our acronyms are...

Me: How's about me you go to someplace private, where we can get a little PVP action going, if you know what I'm saying...
Her: Oh, yeah, baby. That sounds really- (grabs mace from her purse and hits me with a liberal dose)...
Me: Ow! Ow! Fuck that burns! But -ow!- that's still pretty -ow!- hot how -fuck!- self-reliant you are... did I mention I have a 3.0+ mbps connection?

What public Infrastructure? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055743)

Damn telcos took public infrastructure bought and paid for and built up over years

I posted on this the other day, but it will bear repeating.

Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated his telephone at the Centennial Exhibition - our first World's Fair - in 1876. The year Custer died at The Little Big Horn.

AT&T was incorporated in 1877 and privately financed from day one. The first Bell telephone exchange opened in 1878. The Bell system was offering long-distance services before the invention of the vacuum tube.

There have been rural co-op telcos in the states, some city-owned public utilities. But they are not significant in the evolution of the technology, they are not insignificant in terms of capital investment in infrastructure.

The privatization of infrastructure in the United States is a recurrent theme throughout our history.

There have been titanic political struggles over education, medicine, housing, agriculture, industrial development, roads, bridges, canals, railways, flood control, power generation, broadcasting - - -

I stand corrected (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055779)

But they are not significant in the evolution of the technology, they are insignificant in terms of capital investment in infrastructure.

Strike three (2)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052383)

How can Vonage educate a jury on prior art?

Vonage has had two chances to frame a defense that would be persuasive to a judge and jury - and failed in both. The reasonable conclusion is that it doesn't have a defense.

Re:Strike three (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052915)

You assume that they have not been paid off to
make sure they don't have a defense.

Well, you do make a logical point (2, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053249)

You assume that they have not been paid off to make sure they don't have a defense.

Right. Because every time a court decision doesn't go the way we like, it must mean someone was bribed. I see the logic.

They're back against the wall (3, Interesting)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052385)

Yep, the telcos are trying to kill them. They're just going to keep finding stuff till Vonage dies. Then the telcos can increase their prices since they end up being the only game in town. Simple as that.

They're connection's against the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052659)

Uh, huh. Lets see.


Vonage providing phone service---->Broadband connection owned by a monopoly----->customer, ???, profit!

Phone company monopoly providing phone service---->customer, ???, profit!

doesn't matter (0, Redundant)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052411)

lack of net neutrality will kill them if the lawsuits don't. they're doomed regardless.

Re:doesn't matter (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052571)

lack of net neutrality will kill them if the lawsuits don't. they're doomed regardless.
Not really, with Vonage you can select how much bandwidth you want your calls to utilize. Even at the lowest setting it is *not* bad at all. Net neutrality is an issue regarding tiers of service, something not needed to enjoy decent VOIP service.

Re:doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053017)

Not having net neutrality means the cable company is completely capable of doing something where if, say, cablevision detects I'm running Vonage service over my cable internet lines, they scramble the packet order intentionally, and arbitrarily delays random packets by 5 seconds. It gets there, it's just so useless by that time. Now, Vonage's protocol probably has ways of dealing with 'lost' packets, which is what these would have to be treated as, but cablevision can make sure that the number 'lost' or delayed is so high as to make it unusable. (or just delay ALL vonage packets by 5 seconds. yay, you have a 5 second send latency. There's a reason satellite phones aren't used much anymore.)

You're talking bandwidth, which isn't really a problem. Latency is what the companies that own both the wiring AND their own voip service can do to kill vonage easily.

lol (4, Insightful)

spykemail (983593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052463)

If you can't compete with a superior business model your best bet is to sue it.

Re:lol (2, Insightful)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052555)

If you can't compete with a superior business model your best bet is to sue it.
That's exactly what is happening. Comcast's joke of a triple play STARTS at $10 higher a month in my area and that's just the initial 6 months, after that it's a full $20 a month over Vonage. I'd like to remind everyone who's talking shit on Vonage that you're only sinking yourselves if you're actually rooting for the telcos to win every time. Hope you like good ole' Ma Bell Round Two.

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052583)

Or buy them out.

Re: the Vonage business model is temporary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053247)

Vonage doesn't really have a long term business model.

Once everyone is on IP no VOIP to old phone network gateway is needed and a phone will be something you buy at the local drugstore for $20 and then plug into your home network.

No service needed other than your normal internet service and no per month fee for phone.

PS: It doesn't take everyone, just enough so that the gateway charges are charged to the old phone system callers rather than to the VOIP side.

Re: the Vonage business model is temporary (1)

spykemail (983593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057653)

True, but Vonage is a step in the right direction. Once you get people away from ancient phone technology they start to realize that they only need one connection to the world for all of their communication needs (video, audio, other data - it's all the same really). If only all these people read Slashdot :(.

Re:lol (1)

sponga (739683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057027)

If you can't make a superior product, why not copy it than.

See it works both ways.

Are there any real lawyers? (1)

ka8dpr (184458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052677)

God in heaven what is this about? I have been a very happy Vonage customer from 2005. Where are the super lawyers to help save Vonage with this? Vonage is beyond the underdog here. Sorry - no trolling here - just emotion.

They are screwed... (1)

thepartyanimal (1149043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052685)

If it is any indication, I remember laughing at a judge who presided over a case of copyright infringement. After the trial the judge, and many in the jury, said in an interview they had difficulty understanding terms like website, and browser.

Blood in the water (3, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052693)

The things Verizon and Sprint have patents on, AT&T has patents on. All big telcos have thousands of patents covering every aspect of the telephone industry. And now with the loss in the Verizon case and a settlement in the Sprint case, it's clear that Vonage is incapable of defending their business model. It's time (and perhaps past time) for anyone with a patent claim to get in on the game.

Vonage is no longer a viable company. They are just a lump of cash, hemorrhaging out to anyone who looks at them crossly. Right now the game is for the tens/hundreds of millions of dollars Vonage has in cash. But that's just the appetizer; the real prize is the millions of Vonage customers who can be converted over to a "Triple Play" package.

Re:Blood in the water (1)

larry91403 (994292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052769)

So here is the part I don't understand... If they all have patents... why doesn't Verizon sue Sprint and Sprint sue ATT and ATT sue NTTDocomo and....

Patents in the water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052841)

cross patents.

Re:Blood in the water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052885)

Thats where tha collusion and racketeering come in. They have agreements not to sue each other.

Re:Blood in the water (3, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052911)

So here is the part I don't understand... If they all have patents... why doesn't Verizon sue Sprint and Sprint sue ATT and ATT sue NTTDocomo and....
It begins as a sort of "mexican standoff", where the big guys each hold a big chunk of critical patent space and no one company is in any position to assert their patent position in court for fear the others will counter-sue. They then cross-license with one another, leaving the small group of large established companies free to pursue all things telephone. Any newcomers to the market face the impossible task of finding a way through this patent minefield that the big companies are free to ignore.

Re:Blood in the water (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053013)

They then cross-license with one another, leaving the small group of large established companies free to pursue all things telephone. Any newcomers to the market face the impossible task of finding a way through this patent minefield that the big companies are free to ignore.

It's remarkable how much that sounds like "conspiracy", isn't it? Also bears a striking resemblance to "price-fixing".

Re:Blood in the water (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053871)

It's remarkable how much that sounds like "conspiracy", isn't it? Also bears a striking resemblance to "price-fixing".

It has the advantage over price-fixing that it is perfectly legal.

Re:Blood in the water (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055055)

Not necessarily. Agreeing to not sue each other over patent violations is one thing (they can assign patent rights any way they like): but when the big boys collectively use those portfolios and their legal teams to suppress legitimate competition they've crossed the line. The end result of this anticompetitive activity is that their profitability goes up at our expense, as our options disappear. That's what they're doing, and they aren't supposed to be allowed to do that.

Part of the function of government is to provide a bulwark against such behavior and keep those bastards in line, but that's just not happening. Our politico-economic system is failing on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin fixing it. I can say, with some assurance, that allowing the likes of Edward J. "those are my pipes!" Whitacre to continue running the show is a big mistake. People like him are going to have us back on dial-up, fondly reminiscing about the days of "broadband" to our grandkids.

Bloodsucking leeches.

Re:Blood in the water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21054579)

"The things Verizon and Sprint have patents on, AT&T has patents on."

So, their patents all cover the exact same things? Vonage should sue the USPTO if that's the case.

I'm cheering for Google for my first time (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052837)

I didn't realize until now how much AT&T and Verizon are in bed. Google saw this when the 700mhz spectrum went up for auction. The government is supposed to regulate monopolies, but monopolies seem to be doing the regulation of the government.

Re:I'm cheering for Google for my first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055027)

Welcome to ten years ago.

Alternatives to Vonage (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052919)

So say Vonage goes belly up in a few months... does anyone know of similair VOIP solutions? There's no way I'm going back to a telco land line.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052977)

Who uses landlines? What a waste of money.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053067)

So say Vonage goes belly up in a few months... does anyone know of similair VOIP solutions? There's no way I'm going back to a telco land line.

I recommend trying gizmo [gizmoproject.com] . The most popular VOIP solution, at least in my crowd, is skype [skype.com] . And there is wengo [wengophone.com] , who has a GPL'd client.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053111)

I wouldn't call either of those 'VOIP' by definition. I want to use the telephone, not PC based chat.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053821)

I wouldn't call either of those 'VOIP' by definition. I want to use the telephone, not PC based chat.

Of course they are VoIP - they carry your Voice over the Internet Protocol, hence VoIP. What you seem to be looking for is a specific type of service - namely VoIP to PSTN gatewaying. If you do a bit of googling you'll see that there are hundreds of SIP <-> PSTN gateways to choose from. For example, here in the UK I use voipuser.org for inbound DDIs.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21057017)

I wouldn't call either of those 'VOIP' by definition.

And why would that be?

I want to use the telephone, not PC based chat.

Not an applicable reason. After a minute of searching, I found this [skype.com] . I am sure you can find similar items that are cheaper and/or better and/or work with services other than skype.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053205)

There are many, many alternatives out there to Vonage. One list is here: http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/view/VOIP+Service+Providers+Residential [voip-info.org]

I personally have been with a small provider for the last 2 years that provides excellent service, personal support (no hold queues) and is actually cheaper than Vonage. So yes, Vonage isn't the only VoIP game in town.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055199)

Many of us have tried Packet8 http://www.packet8.net/ [packet8.net] as another option to Vonage. Personally I like Vonage and do not want to switch but if I have to I'm surely not going back to a Telcopoly.

Re:Alternatives to Vonage (1)

cyberkahn (398201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055519)

After moving from the defunct Sunrocket to Telelblend (Teleblend was awful) I switched to Packet8 and I have been very happy.

What's wrong with Vonage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053065)

Do a search on the web you will come across thousands of complaints about the tactics they use to stick it to the customer. Refusal to cancel customer accounts, charging for services never provided, technical difficulties they insist are not there fault...etc. The list goes on and on. Check the BBB site. The BBB booted them for so many customer complaints not resolved. Some states have even brought class action lawsuits against Vonage for such underhanded tactics they employ.

It can't be soon enough when they are finally buried.

Former Vonage customer here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053157)

These suits, combined with the poor performing stock after the IPO, have done a lot of damage to something great.

I had vonage, and it was the greatest thing in the world. The price was amazing, it worked really well, and it had amazing features. I loved that you got your messages emailed to you as wav files. I loved that you could do everything through the web site -- configure call forwarding, or whatever. You could buy an 800 number, or a virtual number online, and get rid of them online if you wanted to. You could carry your voip router with you, and plug it in another place if you wanted to take your phone with you.

And it was really cheap. $14.95.

All of that's still true, in fact.

The problem is that if something goes wrong, they don't do a good job of fixing it. My line worked perfectly for a long time, and then it went wonky on me. I have a friend who had been plagued with problems, and he made endless calls to tech support -- he'd wait in a long support queue, and then be told to cycle the power on the router. And they never fixed stuff.

So when my line developed a problem, I made one attempt to deal with support, and when that didn't clear things up, I left. I decided not to fight it, and just let them go. I didn't want to spend a couple of months fighting with them to fix a phone line upon which I depended. And I didn't have enough minutes on my cell plan to wait through the support queues over and over again.

I have to believe that when a company has so many obstacles, a lot of good people will leave. And I have to think that when money gets short, the support and tech sides get cut back. I mean, I think that without these suits, my service wouldn't have gone bad, and if it did, they would have fixed it. I totally blame the lawsuits for ruining a service that I loved.

Vonage was the only phone company I ever had that never felt like a rip off. They were so cheap, and it was such a great service. It was a pleasure to pay that bill each month.

I really wish things had worked out differently.

Get a grip (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053161)

I've read the various comments. Yes the patent system is screwed. Yes it needs reforming. Yes the people that work at the USPTO are dumb as lead and wouldn't know a neutron from an atom.

However, I am sick of people in this forum crying about getting rid of patents.

When companies or individuals have worked on technology for 5-10 years to bring it to market readiness and spent ridiculous amounts of money on marketing the idea to the masses, its nice to know that your hard work is protected from the chinks who don't give a shite about patents and infringement or from those corporations that have tons of money and think they can just steamroll your innovation because you can't afford to fuckin sue them.

A good and fair patent system is needed.

Re:Get a grip (1)

the_greywolf (311406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053313)

A good and fair patent system is needed.

I agree, except this one is neither fair nor good.

Current US patent law has caused nothing but heartache and bankruptcy among IT startups - at the very least, boundaries need to be drawn around patents.

From the Sublime... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053269)

to the "isn't this all getting a little ridiculous".

Because it does.

Ridicule us.

Collusion? (3, Interesting)

the_greywolf (311406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053301)

Can't Vonage sue Verizon, Sprint and AT&T for collusion and conspiracy under the RICO act or some other suitable anti-competition law?

Surely there's proof!

Please let this one take them out! (1)

Ralgha (666887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053497)

I will be happy to see Vonage go under solely because their commercials make me want to kill myself.

Re:Please let this one take them out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21054883)

Then why don't you already?

Big Teleco bought off the politicians (1)

jfern (115937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053969)

They got their internet deregulation, so they can censor whatever content they want. They're going to get their retroactive immunity from breaking the FISA laws. And now they're going to shut down their competitors. At least they weren't able to buy off Senator Dodd.

Not really anything new (3, Interesting)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054423)

These sorts of patent lawsuits are nothing new. Henry Ford was just about sued into oblivion because of the Seldon patent and Western Union tried to sue Alex Bell into oblivion (retro-irony). RCA owned patents on radio and totally controlled production of radios in the US. RCA and AT&T both have a long tradition of filing lawsuits to drive out competition. AT&T and RCA were part of a very small group of companies that cross licensed their vacuum tube patents and drove startups out of business.

$15/mo vs $50/mo (1)

kalislashdot (229144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054501)

I used to pay $50 for a basic phone line. I thought it was crazy. Then I got DSL and I had to have the phone line for the DSL, but I never used it. I only used my cell phone. Then I moved to a city where Cable Internet was way better then DSL so I never got a land line and never missed it. Now I am married and the wife "likes" the regular phone over a cell phone, we ended up getting Vonage at $15/mo. That is doable for me. I never use it, It just rings and I say... its not for me, anyone I know knows mt cell phone. Do love the voicemail and the right price. $50 a month is just crazy. I expect the "land line" will go the way of the dial-up modem. Ha no long distance charges on Vonage just like the cell phone.

Prior art should be an affirmative defense (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054741)

Prior art should be an affirmative defense against patent infringement.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>