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Vonage Settles With Verizon for at Least $80M

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the tough-room dept.

Patents 74

netbuzz writes "Fresh off agreeing to pay Sprint Nextel $80 million earlier this month, Vonage has now agreed to compensate Verizon at least $80 million to settle their patent dispute, and the total could hit $117 million depending on the outcome of appeals Vonage has pending. 'If Vonage wins rehearing on either the '574 or '711 patent or if the injunction is vacated as to the '574 or '711 patent, Vonage will pay Verizon $80 million. If Vonage does not win rehearing on either the '574 or '711 patent, or if the stay is lifted reinstating the injunction, Vonage will pay Verizon $117.5 million.' And, of course, don't forget AT&T just recently opened charges against the company as well."

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Pattent Trolls (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127737)

"And, of course, don't forget AT&T just recently opened charges against the company as well."

yea because AT&T invented voice over packet technology in friggen 2002. It never existed before that.

voice over frame relay has been around for more than 20 years. telco's are a bunch of selfish a-holes who make outrageous claims that are allowed to go unchallenged. Its time for some vigilante justice... how about some random knee cappings ala Nancy Kerrigan on all members of the telcom board of directors.

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127793)

voice over frame relay has been around for more than 20 years. telco's are a bunch of selfish a-holes who make outrageous claims that are allowed to go unchallenged. Its time for some vigilante justice... how about some random knee cappings ala Nancy Kerrigan on all members of the telcom board of directors.
Even better. Hit 'em where it really hurts. In their pocket book. If enough people just simply stopped purchasing goods and services from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint-Nextel, the harm to those companies would be irreparable.

Re:Pattent Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127907)

We could also hire a crack squad of flying monkey commandos to blow up the telecoms' headquarters. This is just as likely to happen as half the world suddenly going cold turkey on telephone services for however long it would take to drive them out of business.

Re:Pattent Trolls (2, Interesting)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128087)

Actually, they don't have to go cold turkey.

Find the most offensive one or two. Boycott them. They are forced to change to stay in business.

Suddenly, the ones that you didn't boycott lose their market share as the formerly boycotted companies pick up a lot of clients. Even though they have had profit for a while, the non-boycotted companies will find their coffers significantly less lined. They now have to fall into line, and make the same changes.

The trick isn't boycotting everyone, just one that can be influential. Now, the problem is getting people organized and boycotting the SAME company, that's a challange.

Re:Pattent Trolls (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129717)

Find the most offensive one or two

That would be AT&T, followed by Verizon.

Boycott them

You can boycott them at one level but you can't escape the fact that sooner or later your money (however indirectly) will end up in their hands. I ditched Verizon POTS service for Verizon Wireless and later ditched them for T-Mobile. Now my money is going to little pink instead of big red, right?

Of course T-Mobile has to purchase their connections to the PSTN from someone...... gee, I wonder who that is in New York State?

Granted, it's still somewhat effective, and I'm much happier for not giving them any money, but don't think that Verizon and AT&T don't have a death-grip on all of our collective balls, regardless of whether or not you do business with them directly.

I can't believe I used to defend these scumbags. Using the courts to kill competitive upstarts, hogging all of the wireless spectrum to prevent newcomers (did you know that in some markets AT&T owns 75% of the available Cellular and PCS bands?), removing the copper from your house to prevent you from switching to a CLEC, etc, etc, etc.

I know Communism has been tried before and doesn't work, but it's business practices like these that start to make me wonder if Karl Marx didn't have an idea or two......

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129989)

he definetly had some good ideas - however he should have closed his mouth whenever he thought about social topics. The economic side of communism *might* work in a true democracy, or even a fairly true democracy with limited republic aspects.

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127971)

As the AC commented, that's bloody unlikely. I might be able to get by. I could switch to Alltel for cellphone service. Grandma? Don't think so.

Re:Pattent Trolls (4, Interesting)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128011)

I have to agree with the other poster whose comment got modded down. While I agree that not buying services from these companies would hurt them (duh), it isn't feasible. In most parts of the country you don't have too many options for a) land telephone, b) internet access, c) cell phone w/ reception. Odds are that in order to get at least one of those three services you're going to have to pony up to Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint. T-Mobile and US Cellular have pretty poor reception where I am. Verizon and Comcast are the only internet providers (and that's really a lesser of two evils) unless you want to go wireless (satellite, etc, $$$). And Verizon is the only POTS provider. So the only way that I can hurt them is to cease my communication to the outside world.

The size of these companies and their control are beyond the scope of what consumers can affect. They muscle competition off of the playing field which has led to the helplessness of consumers at this point. But hey, it's part of the cycle. Another decade or so, after AT&T/Verizon/Sprint have all merged again and widened our collective sphincters a good couple of inches, maybe the governemtn will break them up and we'll start the whole cycle again.

Re:Pattent Trolls (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128507)

I hate the local telco so much I went "vonage only." Through these lawsuits I'll still be paying the local telco anyways. You just can't escape.

Re:Pattent Trolls (3, Insightful)

HumanPenguin (889927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128681)

Same here.

but I am still stuck with the voids surrounded by sphincter muscles Comcast. It really is impossible to get a telephone line without one of the big phone companies or the cable monopoly now.

Also as the main reason I have vonage is for free calls and a local phone line in the UK.

There is no other US alternative.

The world IS getting smaller and technology is passing the big Telco's because they have sat on their monopolies rather then use their innovations.

instead of providing services customers want to pay for they stick their head in the void and sue innovators or bribe politicians.

Re:Pattent Trolls (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128915)

So the only way that I can hurt them is to cease my communication to the outside world.
Okay, so where I am there is only Verizon and Bright House Networks for high-speed internet and Verizon is the only POTS provider. I use Bright House for Internet, Vonage for VOIP. I don't have a landline. I use Sprint for wireless because I'm stuck in a contract and unwilling to pay to get out of it. So of all the companies you listed, I only use one of them. I could just as easily switch to T-Mobile, though, once my contract is up.

Like another poster said, you pick the most influential. Everyone boycott Verizon and AT&T. (Oh wait, sorry, this is Slashdot and the rabid, foaming at the mouth Apple geeks probably won't boycott AT&T. ;) )

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129181)

Sometimes it's not even as simple as just changing the "brand" of your high speed internet. In our town there is also a local provider called TBC for DSL internet. However, if you dig deep enough you find out they are just reselling you a Verizon DSL line. Congrats on limiting the damage to one company so far, I hope that our options continue to increase ;-)

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130259)

Verizon and Comcast are the only internet providers (and that's really a lesser of two evils) unless you want to go wireless (satellite, etc, $$$).
 
Wireless isn't necessarily expensive. I had a wireless broadband connection for a few years that was actually a little cheaper than my current Comcast broadband. It basically just used a dish on my roof that pointed at a tower a bit north of my house. I only switched to Comcast because the ISP was horrible...

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130407)

OK, I concede that the price isn't as much of a factor. The problem is I can pay them $40-$50 / mo for a 256k line or get comcast/verizon at 6-10Mb for the same price. So it's only more $$ when you look at bandwith / cost.

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130645)

Another decade or so, after AT&T/Verizon/Sprint have all merged again and widened our collective sphincters a good couple of inches, maybe the governemtn will break them up and we'll start the whole cycle again.

Not likely-- the US government would prefer they did all merge, as it's then one-stop-shopping for the NSA. The US gov. would hate to have communications turn into a wild-west show of free market enterprise, as that could impede their wiretapping progress...

Re:Pattent Trolls (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128101)

Hit them in their pocketbook? You know who that *really* hits, right? Customers.

Hit them where it REALLY hurts. Pull away their sole right to the lines and put it in a government owned utility company whose sole purpose is to upgrade and maintain the lines. Slap em with common carrier status. Stick em in the Tower of London and make them part of the tour.

We can do a lot better than just 'pocketbook' here.

Re:Pattent Trolls (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128051)

What I particularly liked about that AT&T remark is how can there be so much overlap between the Sprint, Verizon and AT&T patents without SOME of them being kicked out for prior art?

Re:Pattent Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21131629)

Cisco was demoing their VoIP at T.Rowe Price where I worked, back in 1997-1998. It was voice over TCP/IP which is a packet protocol. It used a codec similar to mp3.

Vocaltec actually invented it as we know it today in 1995.

"1995 the first Internet Phone Software appeared - Vocaltec

        * Vocaltec released the first internet phone software called "Internet Phone".
        * Hobbyists began to recognize the potential of sending voice data packets over the Internet instead of communicating through standard telephone service
        * Designed to run on a home PC
        * Uutilized sound cards, microphones and speakers.
        * Allowed PC users to avoid long distance charges
        * The software used the H.323 protocol instead of the SIP protocol that is more prevalent today.
"

The cisco product had already been around a year back when we reviewed it (it was unveiled in 1997?). You plugged the phone into the network, it got an address using DHCP. You could even surf the internet on some models.

It was so quiet and clean they added a noise generator to it so you could tell you were still connected when no one was talking. The sales guy made a point of talking about this. We demo'd them for 2 years and decided our QoS wasn't up to snuff to handle the traffic without issues happening during really important conference calls when there was a lot of market activity.

By 2002 when AT&T "invented" VoIP, cisco had already changed the name of the product line to iPhone in 2000 and the product line was 6 years old.

I am not sure where you get your information, but the wikipedia is wrong.

The voice over packet technology was invented by DARPA in 1973 at pretty much the same time Bob Metcalfe was drawing his first ideas for Ethernet on a napkin at dinner while working at PARC.

It wasn't invented as a result of work done in Israel in 1995, by ATT, or Cisco. You can immediately discount any information source that says it was invented later than 1973.

Here's a simple timeline:
  HISTORY of VoIP

1876 - Invention of the telephone

1915 - Call across the continent

1973 - ARPANET/Network Voice Protocol

1995 - Volcatec

1996 - DSP

1997 - VoIP introduced/global communications

2000 - residential acceptance

Here we are...

-AC

Re:Pattent Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21134881)

better yet let your money do the talking. don't use at&t, sprint nextel at home or for cellular service. i dropped my AT&T and sprint cellular service, and let sprint know why in support of Vonage.

Vonage looks great! (3, Funny)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127739)

This "Vonage" company seems stable and solid - where can i purchase some stock in the company?

Re:Vonage looks great! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21128069)

about as solid as those sourceforge fags. i hear bankruptcy in the air.

Ballmer, are you reading slashdot again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21133363)

get back to work!

Don't forget, no net neutrality (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127833)

Once they finish paying all the phone companies for the patents, then the phone and cable companies will come back and demand extra payment to use their networks. Otherwise, Vonage customers will watch their service degrade until it's unusable. This will continue until Vonage is bankrupt.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127875)

Once they finish paying all the phone companies for the patents, then the phone and cable companies will come back and demand extra payment to use their networks. Otherwise, Vonage customers will watch their service degrade until it's unusable. This will continue until Vonage is bankrupt.
Exactly. All of this corporate racketeering by the telcos has got to be stopped. Hello? EFF? Where are you?

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128123)

Uhm, you state your support for Ron Paul in your signature. He is a libertarian, and he is the last person on Earth who will have the government interfere with the "free market." Not to start a slashdot political discussion, but honestly, if you want to support a candidate who might actually do something, you need to look for someone like Ralph Nader (who did fight big corporations, and won, prior to the god-awful Reagen presidency).

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21128537)

one could argue that the patent system interferes with the "free market". It is a "temporary" government sanctioned monopoly over a particular "invention".

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128855)

Actually, he's under the Republican flag in Congress. I don't think he's likely to win the Republican primary, though, so it'd remain to be seen if he'd want to jump ships to the Libertarian side of things, but they've already got their 4 candidates lined up.

Even if he WAS Libertarian, it wouldn't be outside their scope to reform patent law, since it's a government-backed and granted monopoly and defended in a court of law at that.

The nit pick then would be that it takes Congress to do that and not The President.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129049)

Except that the telco problem is not a patent one, it is a monopoly one. Patents may be contributing factors, but without any government interference the telcos would be forced to form a trust and exclude companies like Vonage, something that they wouldn't require patents to do. Historically, that is why we started having a government regulated economy.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129579)

Ron Paul ran on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21130297)

I've yet to see a "free market" proponent who truly wanted the government to stop messing with markets. They all love copyrights, patents, trademarks, protectionism, easy bankruptcy laws, and massive government contracts. The only they the seem to oppose is consumer protection, environmental protection and monopoly busting.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136501)

You forgot taxes. They love paying their fair share of taxes.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130005)

As corporations are a creation of the state, being pro-libertarian doesn't necessarily mean being pro-corporation. Personally, I'm all for getting rid of the fiction known as the corporation.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130285)

Uhm, you state your support for Ron Paul in your signature. He is a libertarian, and he is the last person on Earth who will have the government interfere with the "free market."

What do you think patents are?

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (1)

warsql (878659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21132687)

As a libertarian, he would be opposed to the government created monopolies that exist in most every city. How many companies can you buy landline service from? Cable? The reality is that the federal government really doesn't have much say on this. The non-choice issues we face are a state and local issue.

Re:Don't forget, no net neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21130007)

A few months after they rolled out their own VOIP service Comcast has been degrading Vonage service, at least in some areas. If Vonage can hold on long enough against the phone companies they can probably get a good chunk of change out of Comcast, or at least Vonage customers can get a class action together.

What if it wins both patents? (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127849)

What if it wins both patents? Vonage shouldn't have to pay anything. Instead, they've agreed to be $80 million in protection money to the mobster Verizon. Can anyone say RICO?

Re:What if it wins both patents? (1)

DoctaStooge (1028066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128935)

Disclaimer: I work for Vonage (not for legal department) The reason we still have to pay as far as I understand it is because we never actually got a court to side with us on the issues of whether we actually infringed on the patents, and if the patents were obvious. The appeals court held up the district court's ruling on the two patents. So from that, we still are infringing in the view of the courts. The original ruling was for $56 mil + 5.5% of future revenue. So that $80 if we got the injunction thrown out would cover the original ruling. Remember, the money was thrown out and the district court had to re investigate the award we would have owed (which could possibly make it worse even). So from my understanding, the $80 would cover what we have had to pay up till now. Also, from what I read in the news, we already had $88 mil in escrow for payment after the case was over. Since this is usually counted as money we don't have, if we had to pay only $80 mil, we would actually earn $8 mil back.

what is this going to do for other VoIP providers? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21127869)

I chose Broadvoice over Vonnage because I wanted Open access. I.E. use my gear unlocked, use asterisk, etc...

Will Other Voip companies be targeted after Vonnage is decimated by the telcos?

Re:what is this going to do for other VoIP provide (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128393)

Yes, but probably only if they go with a national push for market share.

Re:what is this going to do for other VoIP provide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21128655)

Of course. It would be fiscally irresponsible to the patent-holders shareholders not to, so they are actually required to go after people in America or their shareholders can sue them.
It's a stupid system.

New commercial theme song (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21127911)

Boo-hoo, boo-hoo-hoo
Boo-hoo, boo-hoo-hoo
Boo-hoo, boo-hoo,
Boo-hoo, boo-hoo-hoo.

I put an extra line in here by the way so the filter wouldn't ding me for "too much repetition."

Note to self... (3, Funny)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128001)

...Call lawyer. Have him sue Vonage for patent infringement.

You know? (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128037)

This is going to sound bad, but it's stories like this that make me feel not so bad when some tiny company (like, say, Eolas) comes along and hammers a big company.

IMHO, software patents in and of themselves suck, but there's a bit of me hoping like Hell that Verizon, AT&T, and all their kith and kin get slammed (soon) with a multi-billion-dollar patent lawsuit from some tiny company no one has ever heard of. Something big enough to hurt.

(or at least something big enough to get legislative attention and end this whole software patent silliness...)

/P

Re:You know? (1)

hoooocheymomma (1020927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129457)

I don't know why it makes you feel not so bad. Yes, Eolas managed to force its will upon Microsoft, but what did that ultimately accomplish? Flash embeds functioning poorly in IE, *OR* extra work on the part of web developers to use the workaround. Yay. Microsoft just passed the headache onto the users and forgot about it.

Re:You know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21129893)

This is going to sound bad
yes, if by bad you mean altruistic moron.

I smell... (1)

Usefull Idiot (202445) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128099)

an increase in their prices.

Re:I smell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21133351)

That's not so bad. I am considering signing up with Vonage just to show support for them in this BS deal from the telcos. I know my measly $30 a month cannot do much but it's $30 the telcos won't get. Too bad that even if I use a indie ISP that they are probably buying upstream bandwidth from AT&T anyways...

Tell me again (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128203)

how software patents are supposed to protect innovation?
Seems pretty clear that they are only being used to protect big businesses, or as weapons by patent trolls. When the patent system itself became a business (patent trolls) it should have been the wake up call to fix what is obviously broken.

I know that companies are in business to make money, but this kind of heavy handed business practice is not necessary. This type of situation is an example of exactly why people would not be encouraged to start a business. You have to invest a lot of money/resources to ensure that you will not be sued into oblivion just to risk starting up a business. Software patents are WRONG, and the USPTO/patent system is BROKEN.

Yes, we all know that, now what do we do about it?

New Vonage song (1)

coolhaus (186994) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128373)

Boo-hoo boo-hoo-hoo, boo-hoo boo-hoo-hoo...

*stabs self in ear with pencil*

Re:New Vonage song (1)

coolhaus (186994) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128509)

I should have known that I would have been beaten to the punch on that. Sheesh.

For Sale (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21128541)

Maybe AT&T/Sprint/Verizon should just buy Vonage. I mean Vonage has a presence in the market place, and they must have some of their own patents, right? This could be a way for one of them to take more of the VOIP market, which will continue to boom as networking infrastructure improves.

Re:For Sale (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130237)

Maybe AT&T/Sprint/Verizon should just buy Vonage.

They won't because they offer competing services at higher prices with fewer features. They want to sell the services they already offer at the price they decided. To do that they need to stop the company offering a better service for less.

Traditional economics would dictate that they should lower their prices to increase demand in their service, but why do that when they can just use the patent system to harass Vonage until it goes out of business or has to raise its prices to the level they want to charge?

Re:For Sale (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21131069)

As a happy Vonage customer, I would cancel my service if any of those companies bought them. If I wanted to have my phone service with one of the big abusive incumbents, I would already have service with them. It's not like I am unaware of their existence after all.

I know this is wrong (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129137)

I know I'm supposed to support plucky little Vonage and hate the big telcos and really hate the idea of patents. It's a no-brainer how I'm supposed to feel here.

But honestly? After years of those hoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo ads I'm pleased, nay, pumped, even amped, that those Vonage jerkoffs are getting nailed again. I don't even care why because the ads were so obnoxious. So suck on that, Vonage. And take your fucking ads with you, bitches.

Oh yeah, and mod me down for this, for I have sinned.

Re:I know this is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21129303)

You still watch TV ads? Even non-nerds have ad skipping these days.

Duplicate pattent owners? (1)

cpt.hugenstein (1025183) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129255)

How do multiple companies sue for pattent infringment on a pair of patents and not get sued themselves from the other companies or have prior art come into effect. Is there pattent licensing in effect here?

Re:Duplicate pattent owners? (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21132479)

This is part of how truly broken this is. You can be sued for the same tech over and over by many "patent holders". All of them can claim "ownership" (and I cringe at this term to be sure) of the SAME idea, demand payment in excess of your entire GROSS and still not be required to offer any type of indemnity. That is, none of them have to defend at all their exclusive ownership of the that which they claim to own in any absolute sense.

This is like quantum theory here folks. There is just no mental metaphorical model here that you can use to rationalize the operation of this system. Only after years of training can you break your mind fully enough to come close to grocking patent law.

Damn! I love my Vonage. (1)

kcdoodle (754976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129591)

OK. I have a great internet connection. If you do not have a great internet connection, then you probably hate Vonage.

All calls are crystal clear, they Email me my messages (as WAV file attachments), I can access my account on line, caller ID, etc. etc.

Other pluses. If someone calls and doesn't leave a message, I call them back, I don't care if they live in Alaska, it doesn't cost me anything. Here is a big one, when calling, say, an Internet vendor about a problem, I never call the 800 number, I call direct. I get faster response and again it doesn't cost me anything more.

I hope Vonage can stay afloat -- I would really hate to give it up.

Re:Damn! I love my Vonage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21130975)

Don't forget about the free call to Europe from the US! As a Brit living in the US this saves me a ton of money...

I used to feel bad for Vonage (2, Informative)

Nigel_Powers (880000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129635)

Until I canceled my service with them. I was hassled by their offshored customer retention staff, offered months of free service, pleas for me to leave my account on inactive status, anything except cancel. And when I insisted, I then found out about the $39 disconnect fee -- what a crock.

Fuck Vonage!

Re:I used to feel bad for Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21132803)

Isn't the disconnect fee refunded if you return the adapter within a certain period of time? or did they change the policy on that?

Re:I used to feel bad for Vonage (1)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21132965)

Isn't the disconnect fee refunded if you return the adapter within a certain period of time? or did they change the policy on that?
It wouldn't be Slashdot if the entire truth was posted in a gripe...

Re:I used to feel bad for Vonage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21134491)

Return adapter for a refund of disconnect fee?

You must be joking!

Re:I used to feel bad for Vonage (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21133273)

Woah, yeah. I can see why a $39 disconnection fee would make you change your allegiances from a competitive company to a bunch of dinosaurs that continue eternally to fuck up your country's telephony market for everyone but themselves.

Judges and (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21129641)

Judges and patent people must be as stupid as cops. Holy Un-roflo-copter-saurus-believable batman.

Three holders of the same patents? (1)

hansonc (127888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21129649)

So as far as I can tell we have (at least) 3 companies claiming to hold a patent on sending telephone calls over a network.

Why are they all allowed to sue Vonage but aren't forced to settle the obvious patent disputes they have between them. Let's assume for a second that any one of them has a valid patent and had it first. Why aren't they suing the other 2 for getting settlement money out of Vonage that they as the rightful patent holder should have received?

Re:Three holders of the same patents? (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 6 years ago | (#21132627)

I was thinking the same thing. I haven't looked at all the cases, but it does seem odd that Vonage is violating so many patents from the big telcos. You'd think at least a small patent troll company would have rights to something.

Sure seems odd that all the big boys are taking turns on the little guy. It makes me think that they are worried that if VOIP takes off, then they will lose their control over their local monopolies.

I mean, if all they could charge you was an internet access fee, and us consumers won on net neutrality, then they'd have to find another way to extort money from us consumers and that would be too much work!

Re:Three holders of the same patents? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21134005)

So as far as I can tell we have (at least) 3 companies claiming to hold a patent on sending telephone calls over a network.

Why are they all allowed to sue Vonage but aren't forced to settle the obvious patent disputes they have between them. Let's assume for a second that any one of them has a valid patent and had it first. Why aren't they suing the other 2 for getting settlement money out of Vonage that they as the rightful patent holder should have received?


Most likely, the companies in question all have patents which are very similar, but not exactly the same, coupled with the fact that they almost surely have patent cross-licensing agreements between them.

This helps both to avoid costly litigation amongst themselves, and to avoid having any patents being voided, thus maximizing the sheer number of patents, even though a large number may, in fact, conflict or be outright invalid. This situation also increases the size of the patent 'hammer' they collectively and individually can drop on any upstarts that may threaten to compete.

This is a common situation in todays' patent-litigation-crazy corporate world. They can thus legally form their own "good ol' boys" network (nearly identical in practical effect to the 'Trusts' of decades past) to keep competitors out of the market.

I seriously doubt government would be anxious to correct this problem, as VOIP is a destabilizing force to the status quo, (read: campaign contributions and money laundered by lobbyists) as well as presenting new difficulties in being able to effectively wiretap and monitor the communications of the public.

This is true especially as the more companies there are for government to deal with as to the monitoring, the more likely it is that the public in general will be made more aware of both the actual extent of the monitoring, as well as the simple fact that the monitoring is taking place at all, which is below most peoples' general awareness.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Three holders of the same patents? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136733)

Because they have patent cross-licensing deals where they agree not to sue each other in exchange for sharing their patent portfolios. All the big boys do that. What's more to the point, however, is that they all see VoIP providers as a direct threat to their own core businesses, and will do anything to squash that threat. If they're successful in forcing Vonage into bankruptcy, that will have a definite deterrent effect on future VoIP contenders.

I currently have AT&T's CallVantage VoIP service. I'm happy with it, it works well, has some nice Web-based features ... but this case makes me want to switch to someone else. Problem is, my only choices are Comcast (who I used to have for local phone service, until they jacked me up to $90/month) and ... AT&T/SBC.

Bummer.

No wonder why. . . (1)

loudawg (1105787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21130587)

... I started seeing all those commercials recently on TV again!

So VZW's net loss to NY State is... (1)

ucla74 (1093323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21133793)

...only $20M. How cool.

Let's see.... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21135745)

Let's say that you had a business of selling daisies. You are making a nice living working with flowers.

For some reason, the city tells you that you have to sell daisies to other florists directly at a discounted bulk-quantity price. Which turns out to be just less than you were charging people. Overnight, a florist comes in with a lot of slick advertising and buys up half your daisies and suddenly you find your income cut by a lot more than the city promised you originally. And, you really miss the customer interaction that you had before - now you are just a factory churning out flowers for someone else. Also, nobody comes to you so they aren't buying anything else either.

Guess what? This is pretty much where the ILECs are today. They've been told they have to sell their product at bulk-discounted rates to the competition. Competition with little or no infrastructure of their own. And the customers are still 100% dependent on the ILEC infrastructure - unless it is nationalized or something like that we're not getting rid of Verizon et al anytime soon. But we're cutting the revenue to Verizon to ensure they can't do anything except maintain a decaying, aging network.

This isn't going to last very long. Sooner or later Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and anyone else I missed are going to seriously question why they are just working for Vonage and the other zero-infrastructure VOIP providers. Gosh, do you think that might be the reason for the patent lawsuits? Also, this is why they aren't suing cable systems that are offering telephone service on their own infrastructure. If Verizon ceased operation next week Vonage would be stuffed. Alternatively, if you have phone service with Comcast or Cox then Verizon is irrelevent.

Re:Let's see.... (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136211)

Let's say that you had a business of selling daisies. You are making a nice living working with flowers.

And let's say that you own every bit of arable land in the state, so that a competitor would have to buy up high rises and demolish them to get enough arable land to grow their own daisies.

Idiot. This is nothing like growing daisies. The ILEC owns the only line into my building. A line which, by the way, should have been at least upgraded to fiber with the $200 billion [muniwireless.com] "infrastructure upgrade" windfall we paid for. That gives them a natural monopoly, and the only way to bring in competition (besides having the government take over the infrastructure) is to force the ILEC to open up their lines to CLECs.

Re:Let's see.... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136761)

Yeah. Two hundred billion dollars. If that's not a "what the fuck?" situation I don't know what is.
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