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Vonage Loses Appeal; Verizon Owed $120 Million

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the need-to-get-out-of-the-spanking-machine dept.

The Courts 160

Billosaur writes "Things do not look good for Vonage. Yesterday, they lost their request for reconsideration of their settlement with Verizon. This means Vonage owes Verizon $120 million to end the patent lawsuit filed against them. The costs associated with defending the case have cut into Vonage's bottom line, and despite attempts to cut costs by laying off 10% of their workforce, they may be unable to make a payment against their debt come December. According to the settlement, Vonage will pay $117.5 million to Verizon and another $2.5 million dollars to charity. Vonage's shares have dropped 87% since their IPO, now hovering around $1.50 per share."

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160 comments

I've Got Their Number (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384193)

So will I be able to buy my Vonage phone#, that they've refused to let me port to my own SIP server, when they have the firesale? Or will they sell me to Verizon to pay for their patent infringement?

Re:I've Got Their Number (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384565)

Due to the often taboo nature of strap-on activities, information on their history is hard to find. An 1899 report by Haberlandt documented current and historical use of double-ended dildos in Zanzibar, and is one of the few historical documents of this kind. Female-female dildo usage in ancient China has been documented, but it is not clear if this was double-dildos, strap-on dildos, or just a simple dildo being used by one woman on another. In ancient Greece, dildos were made of stone or padded leather, and some evidence shows aforementioned leather was used to make a harness as well, with olive oil used for anal penetration. A double-penetration dildo was found in ancient France, but its use is lost to time. A 19th century Chinese painting shows a woman using a dildo strapped to her shoe, showing that creative use of strap-ons was already well under way. Many artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic have been found that appear to be dildos, including a double "baton" with a hole in the middle, theorized to be for a strap to hold it to a wearer. The Kama Sutra includes mention of dildos made from a wide variety of materials, and used by hand, with ties (straps), or in a harness. It is likely the history of the strap-on parallels the history of the dildo, and given the age of many discoveries, is a rather long history.

Re:I've Got Their Number (2, Interesting)

lzed (109884) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385145)

What do you mean when you say they refused to let you port your number to "my own SIP server"? Was your SIP server a Class 5 Softswitch connected to the SS7 network? Have you registered yourself as a CLEC and have the ability to have other carries TCAP query an LNP database to route to your LRN? Do you know how Local Number Portability works in the United States? If this is an Asterisk box that would be funny.

Re:I've Got Their Number (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385845)

No, actually it's a SIP provider I'm paying to host some other DIDs that I did either port or just buy (as portable) to put on it. They're running some Avaya equipment, and some Asterisk servers. But it could be my own Asterisk server, if I wanted. That's how LNP is supposed to work: all you're supposed to need is a phone number on a phone, and put in a request to port it to another carrier.

So what? Who cares? What the hell is the difference? Verizon had no problem porting some numbers to my preferred provider, nor did some other telcos, like Sprint, from whom I first got the number. Vonage had a problem.

So what does your buzzword complaint have to do with anything? This is a question merely of whether Vonage will let me port a number, the way other telcos do, the way LNP is supposed to work. If anything, you should throw your buzzwords at Vonage, instead of acting like you're some kind of bigshot. All it does is make you look like you don't understand LNP.

God I love it when companies like this get punked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384195)

Slashdot foaming at the mouth in 3..2..1 GO!

and who woulda thunk it... (2, Funny)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384203)

as Vonage was going IPO it would come burning down like a flamin' meteorite.

I just hope the commercials go away (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384209)

Presumably their TV campaign will dry up?

Re:I just hope the commercials go away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384687)

No shit! If I EVER hear that stupid goddamn insipid who-hoo-hoo theme song again it'll be way too fucking soon!! I just wish that they had gone out of business before I had to endure that shit-sucking mind-numbing ass-tearing excuse for a song for the last 3 years! There's rarely something on TV that pisses me off to the point where I will get up, and physically turn OFF the TV when I hear it, it's so annoying. Their shitty commercials shown on EVERY fucking cable channel EVERY fucking break so drilled that piece of shit song into my head that I am now hearing voices and very, very close to a complete nervous breakdown, or going postal, I haven't decided which yet!

I may finally get some mental peace at last, Yay!!

Re:I just hope the commercials go away (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384893)

Or you could do the SANE thing and stop watching the boob tube...

Re:I just hope the commercials go away (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384773)

No, it just changes to:
"Boo hoo, boo hoo hoo..."

patent reform (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384213)

It just goes to show this kind of patent madness hurts everyone. this horse shit needs to end.

Everyone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384243)

It didn't hurt Verizon.

I am sure they would disagree that it needs to end.

And they have a much louder voice than you.

Re:Everyone? (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385113)

Well if you consider Verizon the business entity then I guess that's true. However one could argue that Verizon is really not an individual but a bunch of people and those people would be better served by this horseshit ending.

Re:Everyone? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385181)

Fixed it for you:

This time it didn't hurt Verizon. Yet.

Next time, Verizon might be the losing defendant. That is, if they haven't provoked such a severe backlash that they're no longer around.

Re:patent reform (2, Interesting)

dynamicdesign (776547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384567)

So I'm confused why can't companies sue Verizon or AT&T for making customers pay $50/month for unlimited data plans when you don't even use their respective networks while using a phone that has built in WiFi capabilities?

They should call Darl McBride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384233)

for some lessons in how to run away with money. Go to a judge, declare that you want to restructure (Chapter 12, right), this stops all pending litigation, now proceed to spend all of the company's money, and laugh all the way to the bank.

What patent did Vonage infringe upon? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384241)

What patent did Vonage infringe upon?

Re:What patent did Vonage infringe upon? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384389)

do you have the Google on your internets maybe you try look it up you ignorant buttplug

Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384255)

Dibs on patenting the wheel.

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384517)

OooO, I can patent a way to create an oxygen related reaction to generate high levels of light and heat!!!

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384557)

Dibs on patenting the wheel.
That's fine with me, I call the molecule! I now expect payment of $0.01 for every molecule manufactured, used, sold, or distributed.

</badjoke>

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385101)

damnit...
... for real?

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385717)

I hereby declare a patent with the following claims:

  1. Negatively charged particles, hereafter referred to as "electrons".
  2. Positively charged particles, hereafter referred to as "protons".
  3. Neutrally charged particles, hereafter referred to as "neutrons".
  4. The agglomeration of (2) and (3) into a cohesive body, hereafter known as a nucleus.
  5. The placement of (1) in a cloud-like orbit around (4).

I think that sums it up nicely.

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (2, Funny)

middlemen (765373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384581)

This was on today's Engrish. [engrish.com] Mixes prior "art" and patents.

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384713)

I've got dibs on the electron. Use it, and you'll only have to pay a low usage fee of $.01. All uses covered, and I believe the gentleman who patented the molecule is infringing upon my patent. You'll be hearing from my lawyer sir!

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384801)

Yeah? Well, I call dibs on the process of changing energy states and levels. What's that your electrons are doing, hrmm? Money, please!

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

NinjaTariq (1034260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384905)

I call Energy, anyone existing or otherwise after the big bang is infringing on my copyright...

But since i am not like those folks at Verizon, AT&T or sprint, I give you all permission to use my copyright without any fees, as long as you give credit to me.

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385339)

Thats not fair! By observing them, you've changed their states! Tampering with evidence in the court of law is a serious offense mister.

Re:Patent on the wheel. (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384829)

Dibs on patenting the wheel.
--


You are too late..

However, in that case, an Australian lawyer was able to sneak the wheel patent through a fast-track application system. The US patent went through the full application procedure.

Refrence;
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2178.html [newscientist.com]

Re:Previous art no longer holds up? Awesome (1)

The New Andy (873493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385677)

Too slow [bbc.co.uk]

When are patent portfolios restraint of trade? (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384261)

Judge Greene's breakup of AT&T into the RBOCs mean we now have less RBOCs, and if they have patents, they can stifle any competition they want. Is this a new way around the Sherman Anti-Trust Act???

All that's left are a handful of tiny regionals, and Verizon, AT&T, and QWest. MCI is dead and gone... and buying up patents (or even 'cleanly' filing them) means that these companies can effectively shutout the competition.

Not good.

Re:When are patent portfolios restraint of trade? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384813)

Exactly right. The RBOCs have no intention of giving up their monopolies simply because VOIP was developed. Vonage isn't the one who lost - technology lost. The consumer lost. You lost.

Kick a Verizon representative when you get a chance.

Always (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385109)

Patents by definition restrain others from selling the patented invention. You may be alluding to patent misuse, but that doctrine really doesnt apply in the Vonage case.

Re:Always (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385239)

I understand patent protection, and understand misuse.

I also understand monopolies, and the Sherman Anti-trust Act, The 1996 TCA Act, and other legislation.

What I'm alluding to is that if a sufficient number of patent protections amounts to monopolization of an industry-- once a former public trust-- then there's some thing wrong here.

Vonage is a victim, just as many technology companies are victims, of the patent process. Vonage had a chance,but doesn't now. Yesterday on /. was the story of how AT&T might filter video content. The trend is onerous. Muni-WiFi is dead. As PCs become mobiles/cell phones, the telco monopolies dictate business, not technological advances. It's onerous.

Re:When are patent portfolios restraint of trade? (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385651)

I believe the term used to describe this (when there are so many overlapping patents held by a few players that they can effectively raise the barrier of entry so high as to prohibit any new competitors) in legal and policy discussions is "patent thickets".

not good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384275)

This is not good. I've been using Vonage for years. They provide decent service at good rates, specially for international calls, which I use a lot. What is the option now here in North Carolina? Time Warner? Bellsouth? Their service sucks and they are more expensive. Customer support is worse than non-existent. How is the current patent system serving the people? I understand free enterprise and all that, but lately just feel we the people get always screwed. Is this just me?

Re:not good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384597)

I understand free enterprise
Apparently you don't. Patents hardly supplant free enterprise and free enterprise hardly encourages the abuse of patents.

Re:not good (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384715)

if you just need to save money, you can get POTS and an alternate LD carrier.
the combined costs should be within a few dollars a month of vonage.

Re:not good (3, Informative)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384853)

f you just need to save money, you can get POTS and an alternate LD carrier.

the combined costs should be within a few dollars a month of vonage.

I seriously hope you're joking. The cost for unlimited local-only POTS service (with Verizon, ha ha) is $5 more than what Vonage charges for their premium residential plan, which includes unlimited calling to anywhere in the US and Canada. If I had to tack on a cheap long distance service, my costs would be an additional $30 per month (all my family lives out of state). Add to that Verizon's nutty ideas of what constitutes a local call, and there'll be an addition $10 per month in "regional toll" charges. That means I'd be paying $45 per month more if I went that route. I'd be better off getting their freedom unlimited plan. Oh, and I spend a couple hours a week on the phone with people in Germany. Vonage is only $.04/minute. How much would that be with Verizon?


Sorry, but there's no way shape or form that one of the local monopoly POTS services is going to be within a few dollars of what Vonage customers are paying now. Nobody would have ever switched from their regional incumbent monopoly unless they had significant reason to do so. There was an element of risk involved in trying out VoIP that required sufficient financial incentive to overcome.

Re:not good (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385085)

not a joke, i'm paying about $28 total per month for POTS + alt LD (incl regional).
$6 of that is caller ID so if I skipped that it would be $22.
this is in a major metro area with a bell system entity.

more to the topic though, just because vonage is likely to get more expensive or go away doesn't mean all your options are closed. there is still....
* skype
* ditching the land line in favor of cell
* cable modem "triple play" phone service

the incremental costs here can be very low, possibly less than vonage was charging. the main question is whether VZ will go after skype and cable companies using the same patents.

Re:not good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385275)

I spend a couple hours a week on the phone with people in Germany. Vonage is only $.04/minute.

You can get a VoIP plan from Hosteurope.de at 10EUR/month (~$15) for non-commercial use (30EUR for businesses) which includes all landline calls to most EU states (Germany, France, Italy, UK,...), the US, Australia, New Zealand, China, Argentina and more. The latency is probably pretty bad from the US for anything but EU calls, but at a couple hours a week, it would pay for itself if you just use it for your German contacts.

Re:not good (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384977)

> if you just need to save money, you can get POTS and an alternate LD carrier.
the combined costs should be within a few dollars a month of vonage.

You've got to be kidding.

I pay $14.99/month for the lowest Vonage plan. That includes all my local and long distance calls. That includes voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, etc etc etc. I have ONE phone number that simultaneously rings my home office, my 'real' office, and my cell phone. I have 3 rings to pick up any of those, otherwise it goes to voicemail.

I can configure these features with a click of a button.

On my old Verizon POTS line it took 2 weeks, almost $100 in setup charges, and a monthly fee to get voicemail.

I will miss Vonage very much if they go.

My local cable company (Optimum) now offers a similar VOIP service for twice the price. Better than POTS, but not as good as Vonage.

Re:not good (1)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385167)

agreed, you will not get the flexibility of vonage using POTS.

if you have the patience, you might consider an asterix box so you can host your own voice mail and do whatever you want with it, without paying a tithe to the telco.

in fact, since voice mail flexibility was such a big advantage for vonage, it makes you wonder if some of the patents weren't about VOIP at all, but about voice mail over IP, or just some very broad voice mail (period) patents.

Re:not good (4, Interesting)

gatzke (2977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21386015)

They are really great. Including all those features at a lower cost is awesome.

I love getting email when I have a message at home.

I like being able to listen to it online.

I like having all my incoming and outgoing call information available.

I like having forwarding for free.

I like low cost international and free national.

I would probably pay a good bit more for this quality of service. TimeWarner offered less at a higher cost, so forget them...

Dear Google... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384303)

Please add number porting to Grand Central so I don't lose my home number when Vonage goes under.

K thx bye.

who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384305)

you know if verizon was competitive about it like all you bitch about and cut their prices to put vonage at a disadvantage you'd all be bitching that they're throwing their weight around as a monopoly. verizon can't win in the eyes of you people. vonage should burn.

Re:who cares? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384351)

First, Verizon would have to offer service comparable to Vonage...

Re:who cares? (1)

bn0p (656911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384453)

I do.

I have had Vonage for three years and have been very happy with their service. Verizon doesn't offer VoIP (or anything except wireless) in my area and their wireless prices aren't anywhere near $25 a month.

I would be happy to see Verizon (or Comcast or Qwest) compete on price.


Never let reality temper imagination.

RE: Verizon... (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384949)

I once FOUGHT to get DSL from Verizon, and they did EVERYTHING to make sure they wouldn't get my money, even disconnecting me while transferring my call to the "proper department" three times, hanging up on me once, telling me they service an area and later not following up when they said they would. Tech never shows up, etc.

Seriously, if they want business, such as mine, for example, the sun will go supernova before they get it.

What precisely are they infringing on? (1)

PenguinX (18932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384323)

I've really only heard that they are infringing on 'some patents' - anyone have a good synopsis of why Vonage is getting successfully sued out of business?
 

Re:What precisely are they infringing on? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385449)

anyone have a good synopsis of why Vonage is getting successfully sued out of business?

Vonage loses every case that goes to trial. Voyage loses every case that goes to an appeal.

Vonage can't win on the facts and it can't win on the law. It is running out of time and it is running out of money.

1.50? (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384325)

They've been averaging $2+change for the past month.

Who's next? Viatalk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384375)

I haven't seen a great explanation of what the patents were that were violated but I'm guessing it's a software type patent that's overly broad and covers all VoIP.

That puts a lot of other companies at risk.

Re:Who's next? Viatalk? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385223)

IIRC, the patent is on a POTS to IP bridge system.

you're right though that this puts a lot of others at risk. AFAICT, there is no way to do VOIP-to-normal-phones calls without this.

I am glad I am unaffected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384377)

It is shit like this that makes me happy that I do not use the telephone.

Re:I am glad I am unaffected (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384577)

But you *are* affected.

One less telecom fighting for your dollars means one less competitors and thus less consumer options, even for just internet access.

Vonage Stockholders? (2, Interesting)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384391)

Vonage's shares have dropped 87% since their IPO, now hovering around $1.50 per share.

Seriously, anybody who didn't see Vonage's failure coming before the IPO deserves this. They were an unprofitable company in a saturated market with a product (Voice-Over-IP) that doesn't appeal to most folks.

Sure, $20-25 per month for phone service is a wonderful deal but the major players with rock solid products have similar prices ($30-40 per month). And in effect, they will be de-listed soon and become another ghost in the great halls of technology company who never made it.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384529)

anybody who didn't see Vonage's failure coming before the IPO deserves this
Maybe I'm just not as smart as you, but I don't think the demise of Vonage was quite so obvious.

...with a product (Voice-Over-IP) that doesn't appeal to most folks. Sure, $20-25 per month for phone service is a wonderful deal but the major players with rock solid products have similar prices ($30-40 per month).
I don't know about that. Vonage's $25 includes just about everything you can imagine (voicemail with web-access and emailing of messages, caller ID, conference calls, unlimited long-distance, etc.). To get the same services from conventional phone companies costs considerably more (especially if you actually use long-distance). Monthly bills of $60-$100 are not uncommon in those cases.

And, really, I've seen lots of people interested in the lower prices and better packages that VoIP has to offer. However what seems to be happening are that cable companies are cleaning up in the VoIP space, because they already have the infrastructure, and can offer packages (TV/Internet/phone) that are actually a good deal.

Vonage, really, was a pretty good business with reasonably satisfied customers. In fact, I imagine they would have stood the test of time were it not for two things: (1) the incumbent monopolies are rich, and (2) patent law gives anyone with enough money the ability to exclude competitors.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (4, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384757)

Vonage sold its service to tons of DSL customers. DSL customers who were using the ILEC wires. This pretty much means the ILEC was supplying their competitor so the competitor could beat them over the head.

Not that this isn't an attractive situation. If the government forced you to rent your car out for 50% less than it cost you to rent it, would you be happy about the deal? Probably not. What could you do about it? Maybe nothing directly. But if you could find a loophole like requiring renters to have a million dollar liability insurance policy, maybe you wouldn't have to rent it out as much.

Or, if McDonalds had a deal that if you bought 100 hamburgers at a time they would sell them for $0.10 each. So you go there, by 100 hamburgers and set up a stand on the corner reselling them - right in front of McDonalds. And your sign is saying how cheap your "McDonalds" hamburgers are compared to the store behind you. Would McDonalds sell you another 100? Maybe not.

This is the sort of situation that Verizon found itself in. They do not have to support their competitors, but they had to support Vonage. The government and state regulators won't let them stop supporting Vonage directly. So we dust off an old patent and find it can be used to beat up Vonage. If it wasn't for the patent, there would be something else.

Best stick with one of the under-the-radar VOIP providers that just resells some bulk service from Sprint. Lingo is one of those. Cheaper than Vonage and a lot less visible.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385195)

I have heard this argument many times. The problem with it is that the local phone company is not the same company as the ISP with the same name. Take Verizon for example. Verizon ISP and Verizon Telephone are not the same company. Verizon ISP, which is the company that sold the DSL connection, is in no way hurt by Vonage, so no, Vonage is not competing with Verizon ISP.

Now, if we are going to say that Verizon ISP is not profitable on it's own, and requires the high margin POTS lines to subsidize it, then we have a classic anti-trust case where a monopoly is using it's monopoly position to control a different industry.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (2, Informative)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385279)

Vonage sold its service to tons of DSL customers. DSL customers who were using the ILEC wires. This pretty much means the ILEC was supplying their competitor so the competitor could beat them over the head.

ILECs that were given monopolies in areas in exchange for precisely the scenario you describe -- opening up their copper to competitors.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385909)

But they don't have to open up their fiber to competitors.

It's called a monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385341)

This is exactly why backbone providers need to be backbone providers. If you allow the backbone provider to also be the telephone company and the ISP they have a monopoly.

Now it's one thing if Verizon paid for all their infrastructure but more than likely it was paid for by tax dollars.

Your tax dollars hard at work. (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385073)

This is part of that "social bargain" that government is.

Let me rephrase, you waive your right to free choice in all things, and in exchange you receive whatever those you voted for feel that they owe you. Generally its mediocre services (such as justice or medicine), or total and complete abuse (such as prohibitionist laws, feel good propaganda and theft of personal property through armed robbery (confiscation) or fraud (taxes for "necessary services")).

Whenever a company with good service shows up (and Vonage was among them when they first started out), they get shafted by the collusion of the tools of government (corporations) and the tools of corporations (government). Who gets the shaft? Those whom the government is supposed to "protect".

Get over it folks, every time you rely on crooks to stop other crooks from robbing you, all you get is "We've robbed you twice, but don't worry, we'll make up for it!! Stay here, we'll be right back with a bigger bag."

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384887)

Okay...

  1. $25 is not "comparable" to $30-40 per month. The $30-$40 prices represent a 20% to ~60% mark-up over Vonage, and you end up with less features (and according to some, less reliability).
  2. VoIP for the masses was not a "saturated" market when Vonage first hit the scene - at least not to Joe and Jane Sixpack.

IMHO, this little patent spat was Verizon's way of fucking-over a competitor without actually having to compete on merit to do so. (IIRC, the patent is basically a bogus "On teh Intarwebs!" rig-up of existing tech, folks).

Also, up until this lawsuit, Vonage was actually beginning to turn a profit. Not anymore.

That said, I honestly doubt that anyone saw it coming, up until Verizon decided they didn't like the competition anymore.

/P

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385263)

Not to mention my vonage service is only $17 a month, not $25. (I get 500 minutes, long distance and several other features included, more than I need.)

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385497)

Around that time (2004?) I had looked into a few IPO-worthy companies, with Vonage and Under Armour at the top of the list. Vonage was hated, and I wish I had the time to pull up the old articles from the way-back machine... but I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader.

Also, up until this lawsuit, Vonage was actually beginning to turn a profit. Not anymore.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=VG&annual

Now, I don't know how they figure their "Selling General and Administrative" liability, but for the last three years this has cost them more than their "Total Revenue" and even though their Revenues increased like crazy (almost tripling each year), so did their costs. And even if you add a couple of hundred million dollars that they had to spend in court to deal with the lawsuit, they are still losing money. And the are still in a market that is flooded with competition. Another post said that there are other, cheaper, better, more under-the-radar VOIP companies out there... and probably run a better business than Vonage because their costs are way out of proportion for what an internet business should be.

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (2, Interesting)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384907)

As a former Verizon customer who is now a Vonage customer, I can tell you that Vonage is definitely a better deal. POTS service through Verizon cost me about $35-$40 on paper when I first signed up, but the price would always creep up to the $40-$50/month range over the next few years. Then I'd call the bastards up, and we'd be back down to $35-$40. Then the process starts all over again.

Once I switched to Vonage, that problem went away, I've been with them for 3 years, and no price increase. I can call all of USA, Canada, and most of Europe as much as I want for the $27/month I pay, and it never changes. It was really freaking cheap for my wife to call me while I was in Pakistan last year too.

One other thing that POTS doesn't do is send you your phone messages via email.

$2.5 million to charity? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385201)

Under the terms of the settlement, the $120 million payment would have been cut to $80 million had the appeals court in Washington agreed to review the decision. Holmdel, New Jersey- based Vonage must pay $117.5 million to Verizon and give $2.5 million to charity.

What's with the $2.5 million to charity? Is this a common thing in such lawsuits? And does anyone know what charity/charities?

Re:Vonage Stockholders? (1)

NinjaTariq (1034260) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385237)

Only problem with these rock solid products is none of them are available where I live, none of the companies which have taken them to court offer landline service in my area. Only one telephone provider exists in our area and they refuse to take us on as customers... Also none of them offer me free calls to europe so that I can speak to my family.

Vonage is a good service, their service has gone a little downhill recently, possibly due to the court action and them changing things to try and get around it. Yes there are other VOIP products but none of them 'just work' like Vonage.

If Verizon is so damn good, i want them to offer me the same service in my area which Vonage currently does.

competition (3, Insightful)

TI-8477 (1105165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384411)

The reason all of th big telco's are going after vonage iss because its business model is far better than their's. Simply put, they're afraid of competition.

Soooo, looks like... (5, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384473)

Von Boyage?

Re:Soooo, looks like... (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385117)

Von Boyage?

Only if they wind up having to go to jail.

Darn... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384483)

Guess this means I shouldn't buy that VonageLinksys router gizmo on clearance at Wal-Mart?

Or maybe I can flash it into something useful when Vonage dies?

Re:Darn... (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384993)

Guess this means I shouldn't buy that VonageLinksys router gizmo on clearance at Wal-Mart?

Or maybe I can flash it into something useful when Vonage dies?

Depends on the price. I recently switched from Packet8 to Gizmo Project; after bricking my DTA310 trying to get it working with Gizmo, I ordered one of these [thevoipconnection.com] earlier this week. I already have a WRT54GL (running OpenWRT Kamikaze), so I don't need router functionality in an ATA. I might try unbricking the DTA310 at some point, but that's a low priority now.

(As an aside, flashing your DTA310 with Packet8's v11.11 firmware is a bad idea. It won't work with Packet8 anymore, it won't work with other VoIP providers, and you won't be able to return to a firmware version that does work.)

(As another aside, Twinkle [twinklephone.com] works great on AMD64 Linux and is less of a hassle to get running that Gizmo's Linux client. Theroetically, KPhone should also work, but I could only get it to work with inbound and toll-free outbound calls.)

Brace up for higher bills (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384491)

This will be a simple one for Vonage customers. What I know Vonage will do is to increase charges for their customers. From their present customer base, a flat 0.1% charge will solve that cash flow issue.

Question (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384535)

How is losing jobs to outsourcing worse than losing jobs to patent law suits? I ask since no one mentions the lost jobs in these kind of cases.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384607)

How is losing jobs to outsourcing worse than losing jobs to patent law suits? I ask since no one mentions the lost jobs in these kind of cases.
Both are equally bad for the people losing the jobs, but from the company's perspective, the difference should be pretty obvious:
-When you outsource, you maintain the same level of productivity but reduce your costs, which is a net gain for the company.
-When you have to lay-off to make ends meet, your productivity decreases, and your income probably decrease too (fewer people to do advertising, to build and maintain infrastructure, etc.). Your company cannot expand as much as it might otherwise have. Depending on the specifics, this may mean more or less profit left over (for investors, etc.) at the end of the day (e.g. sometimes you can downsize or streamline a company and thereby increase profits).
-When you have to lay-off people unexpectedly, because you lost a lawsuit, that is a huge negative. In effect your expenses have increased dramatically, and in addition to that your workforce has decreased, so productivity and income go down. This is a big loss for the company.

Oh, and by the way, people do mention the lost jobs due to outsourcing all the time--usually in conversations (or Slashdot threads) related to outsourcing.

Re:Question (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384615)

because patent lawsuits are not necessary, while outsourcing is necessary. Well not necessary, but rather it is part of normal free market behavior, at least one where jobs have been commoditized.

To a person who had a job all that really matters is now they don't have a job. Listing on slashdot every company that had to lay people off would quickly become depressing.

Re:Question (3, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385619)

How is losing jobs to outsourcing worse than losing jobs to patent law suits?

In one scenario, somebody else gets your job, in the other nobody gets your job.

Not *this* December (5, Informative)

HunterD (13063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384599)

Read the article, Vonage may default in 13 months (December 2008) not in 1 month (December). Do the editors even *read* what they post?

Re:Not *this* December (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385035)

the editors don't even read what *you* post

Re:Not *this* December (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385175)

HunterD (13063): Do the editors even *read* what they post?


Your userID indicates that you aren't new around here... yet you ask if the editors read their own posts...

I have never felt such cognitive dissonance...

Re:Not *this* December (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385273)

Um -- do you know this is /.?

Sad to see them go... (2, Interesting)

andyring (100627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384647)

Granted, as in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I'm not dead yet!" but it's sad to see this happen. I was a customer of Vonage almost since they started, and have been quite happy with their service. I only recently canceled on account of simply not needing a home phone and having a company-provided cell phone that I can use for personal calls.

Patent Reform #2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384679)

This really irks me.

Point 1/.

Patents were invoked as a means of protection of IP, and fair enough.

If a patent owned by A is a core part of its operation, and B uses it as a core part of its operation, then fair enough. But in this case these patents have little or no bearing on A's operation and little or no bearing bearing on B's operation.

The IP violation is not worth the penalty provided to A, and is not worth the penalty charged to B.

Point 2/.

The powers that be in your country spout, as one of the bases of democracy, an open, competitive system.

To see patents being used so blatantly to crush opposition is NOT indicative of an open, competitive system.

To me it is crazy.

Welcome to the real world?

No.

These are just lazy, fat, protectionist nobodies in their ivory towers.

No different than the RIAA / MPAA.

Crush them I say.

Good News For Comcast and AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384697)

Good news for Comcast and AT&T if Vonage goes away: They won't need to block Vonage to "encourage" their customers to switch over to their similar VoIP services AND they can raise their rates.

This is really getting sad. (1, Redundant)

Lordplatypus (731338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384827)

I appreciate what patent law is meant to do, protect and encourage inventors and developers to invent and develop. It seems though, that as of late, it only succeeds in limiting and discouraging people from trying to develop something useful. I seems to me that with the nature of today's technology, that if a company develops a patent and does not try to produce or license the technology, they should loose the ability to sue over its use. -lp

Re:This is really getting sad. (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385805)

I agree, or at least, something similar. One argument against forcing patent holders to use the technology themselves, is because little guys with bright ideas but not enough money to implement it would get screwed, and I agree on that too.

So really, there should be a method to gauge effort in trying to get the product out of the door, even if it means actively trying to license it up front, advertising it, trying to get proofs of concepts out...-something-. That way submarine patents and patents just there to screw people over would be covered...

One would have to be very careful and consider very well each word of how that "rule" would be written...but something along that line would help... Again, if its just actively advertising it...that way at leasy one wouldnt have to go through millions of patents to see if their product is safe or not.

Alternate VoIP companies thread (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384891)

Please post your experience with other VoIP companies that compete against Vonage in this thread.

Re:Alternate VoIP companies thread (1)

BlueNoteMKVI (865618) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385613)

I've done a lot of work with VOIP both for myself and for a few clients. In a business situation look at setting up an Asterisk server (very easy with TrixBox). For home use there are lots of similar providers. You can look up some information at http://www.voip-info.org/ [voip-info.org] and the forums at http://www.trixbox.org./ [www.trixbox.org] I've had good experience with Vitelity and VoicePulse. I use their services to connect to my Asterisk box, so that doesn't directly transfer over. Based on what I've seen a few of my friends go through I can recommend that you NOT go with SunRocket.

Drop in the bucket... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21384959)

It may not be as bad as it seems if Verizon can't distinguish between .002 cents and .02 cents.

Ch 11, but not Ch 7 (2, Interesting)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21384969)

Vonage may not have the cash to make debt payments and they may go bankrupt, but they should still operate and not dissolve.

1. The Vonage name has excellent recognition due to their heavy investment in advertising.

2. Vonage has a paid up license to use the patents required to implement Voip.

3. The various patent holders (Verizon, ATT, one other) should probably go after other Voip providers like Packet 8 who don't have nearly the cash on hand to survive the suits. Therefore, the VOIP consumer marketplace may have only one competitor soon.

Don't buy their stock, for it may go to zero, but also don't expect Vonage to go out of business. Someone will likely want their assets at a reduced (below book cost) price.

Screw the phone companies (1)

GottliebPins (1113707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385153)

I remember the day I switched to Vonage. I remember with great satisfaction opening the access panel in my ceiling and yanking the phone cable out of the junction box and plugging in my Vonage cable. And last spring I enjoyed even more ripping up 45 feet of buried phone cable while doing some landscaping. I don't care if Vonage has to raise their prices to the same rate or higher than the regular phone companies. Screw them. Why do so many people belong to Netflix when there's a Blockbuster just down the street that you can also rent by mail? Because we remember all the times we took it in the shorts for late fees. The only reason they're lowering prices and renting online is because of Netflix. If Netflix goes away we're back to being screwed again. The telco's have sucked for too long and will never get better without real competition. I hope Vonage sticks around. Hell I even prefer my MetroPCS service to AT&T. I can barely get reception in my house and there are lots of places I can't get service but by God I'd rather pay $30 bucks a month to the little guy than get reamed with overages, at least everything's unlimited on MetroPCS.

Re:Screw the phone companies (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385919)

Good point. I'm also a Vonage customer, and it would cost me at least twice as much to get an equivalent calling plan on a POTS line. If Vonage has to raise their prices, I can accept that.

I don't know if the worse case in this situation would be that they go under, or that they be acquired by Verizon and sink into mediocrity, but if they go under, who would you go with? I used to be a Packet 8 customer before Vonage, and Vonage is far better than Packet 8 for both reliability and (especially) the quality of their website. I could go back to them if they are the next best after Vonage, but I hope there's somebody else better.

Whoo hoo, whoo hoo hoo (1)

onion_joe (625886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385751)

whoo hoo, whoo hoo hoo killed my memories of Kill Bill [imdb.com] so quickly?

Vonage, I'ma lookin' at you, bub...

These patents should be reviewed (1)

spectro (80839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385781)

WTF are Vonage lawyers doing, they should've ask for these obvious patents to be reviewed. I skimmed through these and all I saw were claims about doing something on the internet.

If somebody from Vonage is reading this, fire your lawyers and hire some good ones.

Damn... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385825)

It's a damn shame to see a well run business get fucked over by the dickhead kinds of capitalists....

In capitalist barberica, profit gives way to mediocrity!

EXCELLENT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21385829)

About time. Now to get a good seat to watch the cindering ashes as this company goes down. They deserved it so much for so long.

Did anyone not see this coming? (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21385867)

Like the incumbents were going to just allow a startup take away their bread and butter. Internet? Piss on that. Cable? Same. Phone calls. The Baby Bells make a SHITLOAD of money on old fashioned telephone calls.
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