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Vonage Loses VoIP Case With Verizon 150

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the time-to-pony-up dept.
cdrudge writes "A federal jury on Thursday said Vonage Holdings Corp. violated 3 of 5 patents of Verizon Communications Inc. and ordered the upstart Internet-phone company to pay $58m in damages as well as 5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer. Verizon said it would seek an injunction to block Vonage from using its patented technology. The jury did reject Verizon's claim of $200m in damages and that Vonage deliberately violated Verizon's patents. As you might expect, Vonage said it would appeal the decision and seek a stay if an injunction is granted. Judge Claude Hilton set a hearing for March 23 on whether to grant an injunction."
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Vonage Loses VoIP Case With Verizon

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  • Guess I'll hold off on switching to Vonage for a little bit longer...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyYar (622222)
      I was actually thinking in the opposite direction - I might just get rid of my Verizon DSL to vote with my dollars. The cable company offers Cable/Internet/Phone for $99. I have Vonage currently, and I like it a lot. I hope this doesn't kill them off.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I've had Vonage since almost the very start of their service and it has been awesome. I pay 17 bucks a month and I have never come close to using all of my time, whereas I used to pay around 50 bucks a month at least when I used a standard landline. I can call anywhere in the US at anytime of day and not have to worry about the charges.

        Vonage has completely liberated my phone usage.

        • by Seumas (6865)
          Using all of your time?!

          It should be unlimited since they don't provide the bandwidth. All the VOIP services I've used have been for a flat fee, worked great and were extremely reliable. If they went under, I'd go with Vonage. However, Vonage would be my "last resort". They're big. Not great. They're just big. I'll take $20 for unlimited everything plus all the tricked out features over $30 with Vonage, plus whatever they want for extras.

          I don't trust the bandwidth providers to not screw with your packets a
          • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

            by ximenes (10) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:06PM (#18283454)
            Vonage has two plans, unlimited is $25 and 500 minutes is $14. The instant they introduced the 500 minute plan I switched down to it. This includes all of the services (voicemail in particular) that you pay through the nose for with a real phone company.

            I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.
            • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

              by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:36PM (#18283738)
              I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.

              Spoken like a true /.er ;)

              20 whole minutes on the phone per day? Unthinkable, why would the guy I order pizza from need to talk to me anywhere near that much?

              And really, who else do we call?
              • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Informative)

                by pdhenry (671887) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:03PM (#18283982)
                1) incoming calls don't come out the the 500 bucket.
                2) calls to toll free numbers don't come out of the 500 bucket.
                3) calls to Vonage customers don't come out of the 500 bucket.

                It's harder to burn through 500 Vonage minutes than one would think.
                • We do it fairly regularly, but we've never used enough to go over the $24.99/month cost even once, let alone regularly (to justify switching to the unlimited plan). Our phone bill is usually in the $19 a month range, and I admit that we don't really worry about where we're at, minutes-wise.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by JPriest (547211)
                    I am in the same boat you are, we go over our 500 minutes every few months, but I have not upgraded the plan becasue it is never costs much more than a few dollars. Anything up to 255 minutes over (755 total) is still cheaper on the $15 plan.


                    When I first signed up for Vonage I bought a $200 multi-cordless phone system (Current model is Uniden TRU9485-3) that is pretty nice, but at the same time I have saved about $1,400 since moving to Vonage.

                • by sholden (12227)
                  My February Vonage invoice:

                  In-Plan Minutes used: 3121
                  In-Plan Minutes remaining: Unlimited
                  Regional Minutes Used: 0
                  Free In-Network Minutes used: 16
                  Free In-Account Minutes used: 0
                  Free Minutes used: 42

                  It's not hard at all...
                  • by ncc74656 (45571) *

                    In-Plan Minutes used: 3121

                    Holy crap...do you have a phone embedded in your skull? That's over 52 hours for the month, or about one hour and 45 minutes per day. How do you get anything done when you're yakking on the phone all the time?

                    • by sholden (12227)
                      That was for February so it's more like an hour and 51 minutes :) And people call me too.

                      I do my yakking on the phone while I get things done. The wife also does some of it.

                • We do domestic calls on the cell phone and use our $15/month Vonage for international calls to and from our family in UK (4 cents/min), South Africa (9 cents/min) and Mexico (a hefty 12 cents/min). Even with the international calls we only hit ~$25/month so no point switching to the unlimted package. We probably could find VOIP cheaper, but I had it for a couple of years, never had to call customer service it works perfectly fine (except for the couple of times our Comcast internet went down) and simply spl
                  • by b0bby (201198)
                    I switched to a local carrier a couple of years ago (Cavtel, FWIW) - they have a $50 phone/DSL package. I also make a number of calls to the UK, and I found that the cheapest way is to use one of the no pin, no fee phonecards. I can usually get 2 cents a minute to the UK, I just have to dial an 800 number & then the UK number. It seems easier to me than switching to VOIP. As a fallback, Cavtel's rate to the UK is 8 cents, which isn't really that bad.
                  • Depending on the call volume, and the availability of high speed access, it may be even more economical to install a second Vonage line at your family's location(s). That effectively gives you unlimited calling as well as the ability to call them when you are away from your Vonage line. In addition, they can now call each other for free as well.

                    All Vonage cares about is a US billing address; I've used mine overseas and it works great.

                    BTW - isn't the UK free now?

                    I realize that you can do this with S
                    • Call volume's not high enough. The unlimited UK is for the $25 package and we only just hit that monthly with the $14/month plus the international calls.
              • You... you don't use the Intarweb to order pizza? And you call yourself a /.er! ;-)

                Seriously, I haven't talked to a pizza person on the phone in YEARS. Yes, it does mean that I can only order from the "Big 2" (Papa Johns & Pizza Hut - I don't touch Dominos due to some scary corporate ideals they have), but it also means that I don't have to deal at ALL with the minimum-wage-making till-monkey on the other end of the line who will screw up my order 95% of the time. This way, what I want is there in WRI
                • Yarg. That stuff is *barely pizza.

                  Get on the phone and/or drive around. If you're not out in Butte, Montana, there will be a quality locally owned shop within a few miles. Worth using the phone, even. And I hate phones.

                  "This way, what I want is there in WRITING, plain as day."
                  "S-h-i-t-t-y P-i-z-z-a"
                • by MightyYar (622222)
                  Papa John's? Dominos? You poor bastard. :)

                  I've lived in two consecutive great pizza cities now (Philly and New York)... I could never go back to the chains.
              • Run a dial-up modem over it.
              • Funny comment, but a serious response. I think a pretty high percentage of /.ers (actually, a pretty high percentage of Americans, Europeans, etc.) have switched their primary phone to their mobile. These days most standard plans in the US are basically all you can use.
            • Re: 500 minutes (Score:3, Insightful)

              by SimonInOz (579741)
              >> I cannot even conceive of using 500 minutes in a single month.

              Hmm, so you don't have teenage daughters, then?

              (Sorry, this is Slashdot. Slashdotter's are not supposed to have girlfriends or wives, therefore children [at least living with them] are relatively unlikly. Silly me)
            • by archen (447353)
              I use over 500 minutes and it actually still works out quite well with their rates. I also make a lot of calls to Canada so I save big time there. But you need to use over 750 to go over $25 (which I've never gone over) so even if you use over 500 minutes it can still pay to be on that plan.
            • by matth (22742)
              And some VoIP companies, like the one I work for, offer even cheaper plans like $9.95 for all you can eat local calling.
            • Vonage has two plans, unlimited is $25 and 500 minutes is $14. The instant they introduced the 500 minute plan I switched down to it. This includes all of the services (voicemail in particular) that you pay through the nose for with a real phone company.

              Also, they have a deal now (I think just about all the big VoIP companies are doing it, too), where you prepay for a year, at $20/month. So that's really not bad. Lots of features... they're not perfect (where's the Anonymous Call Rejection?), but they'

              • by ximenes (10)
                Yes, that is pretty much my only complaint with Vonage: why can't I have more control over the calls I receive? Being able to block anonymous calls, or certain numbers, or whatever else you can think of should be possible in this high tech VoIP future we live in. But I still get a call from Discover every day, 9:30AM sharp.
          • Currently, I don't use VOIP but that's only because I have a cell phone and paying for two seemed kind of silly.

            I hear a lot of people say to just use a cell phone as their main line, and I've got a cell phone with 1400 minutes a month shared between my wife and I, but what do you give out as your "home phone number" when people ask for it if you're married? Plus I can only have one cell phone extension per number so I'd have to remember to carry around my cell phone when I go upstairs or I'll miss a call

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hazem (472289)
              It clearly doesn't work for everyone.

              But, why should you and your wife necessarily have the same number?

              And you've presented an interesting opportunity for a new kind of device. It could be a home docking-station/wireless base for a cell phone. You plug it in and any incoming calls would automatically be handled through a cordless phone system. You can then put your cordless phones wherever you want them. Maybe it could take multiple phones and would use a different ring per phone. If it were really sm
              • I've seen them advertised several times. They aren't exactly what you're talking about, but they are in the ballpark. Not sure how well they actually work. I would expect this to become a lot more feasible now with bluetooth phones. You'd just need to plug your phone into a charger sitting near the "base" (or the base itself).
              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by kiwipeso (467618)
                Vodafone in germany and soon in new zealand, has a thing called at home. You just txt vodafone from your home area and it locates you.
                For about NZ$30, you get free local calls in that 100 meter zone just like a ordinary landline.
              • by jeff4747 (256583)

                Does this thing already exist?

                Sprint had a similar device 3 years ago when I was first shopping for a cell phone. Basically, you plugged your cell phone into it when at home, and calls to the cell were routed to your home phone number.

                Yes, it required you to get a sprint cell phone and sprint POTS phone. I have no idea if they've still got something like that, 'cause I went with another carrier.

              • by RobNich (85522)
                The Motorola C51 Bluetooth Mobile Line [motorola.com] will connect up to 5 mobile phones to the C51 cordless phone system and each mobile phone can have its own ring. The phones are placed near the base. I don't know if the C51 system can have that many calls at once, but I suspect that it can. (Disclaimer: I work for Motorola, but not in this division, and this isn't an official statement or anything.) I happened to see this the other day on the Motorola Store, and I thought it looked pretty cool...if I had a home ph
            • by BLKMGK (34057)
              Okay, here's what you do if you use the Cell as your primary number - Cell Socket or a Dock-n-Talk. These are both devices that interface cell phones with the normal phones in your house. I use a Dock-n-Talk with a BT module on the waomn's phone. Vonage is my primary line but when her phone rings and she is in the house it rings on line #2. she does a great deal of business over the cell phone with employees often needing to reach her and since they never know where she is they call that number - this works
      • I have no desire to ever get a VOIP service since I think landlines are antiquated. Nonetheless, this might steer me away from getting Verizon's fiber optic service installed in the house I'm about to buy. I was going to get their 10mbps plan for $40/mo, an Akimbo IPTV subscription for $10 and an inexpensive PC with Windows Media Center and just thumb my nose at getting a cable modem and cable TV. Now, I might just stick with cable service in the new place.
        • by MightyYar (622222)
          VOIP can be more than a landline... you can use a softphone or portable WiFi phone so that you have your home phone service wherever you have broadband access. You can do this with a cell phone, of course, but extra minutes are expensive if your job or social life requires more minutes. If you make international calls, it is simply the cheapest way to make overseas calls - free to much of Europe! The calls to Asia are so cheap that I don't even bother to expense them anymore - it's just not worth my time. I
    • by Seumas (6865)
      I really don't know why anyone would go with Vonage to begin with. There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

      Vonage is to VOIP what Gateway is to the computer market.

      I see this as a case of evil versus evil.
      • Vonage is ok in terms of quality and rates. Only problem I had was my cable modem would "mysteriously" lose sync during the middle of any long calls. (no it wasn't overheating). I can't blame Vonage for that since it's my ISP which sucked. Oddly enough my ISP (Rogers) offers a competing [more expensive] VoIP service which doesn't offer the same features as Vonage (like free long distance).

        Geez, I wonder ... hmm ...

        Fortunately, I rarely call anyone [yeah, being a loner has its advantages]. And once I qu
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I really don't know why anyone would go with Vonage to begin with. There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

        Like who? I pay about $30 a month for the unlimited service after taxes and charges and I get reliable service. How much more could I ask for? When I pick up the phone I want to hear a dial tone not "Your $6.95/month VOIP Provider is not available, try again l

        • I've been using http://galaxyvoice.com/ [galaxyvoice.com] - $0/month plus $0.023/minute is pretty damn good, especially with a reliability level of "it's always just worked".

          • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

            by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:05PM (#18285078)
            I'm paying a comparable amount through Vitelity [vitelity.net] and I've been quite happy with the service. $1.49/mo. for each DID, 1.39 cents/min/channel outbound, and 1.1 cents/min/channel inbound. It's very much an ala carte service - you can order as many DIDs as you want for a single account, and if you want CNAM lookups (caller ID), you pay for them on a per-use basis (something like 2 cents/lookup IIRC). Most importantly for me, they actively support and welcome customers running their own PBX boxes (Asterisk , etc.) and they will let you have as many simultaneously active calls as your bandwidth will support.

            I've had no problems with the service, and they were very helpful in porting my previous Vonage number over. They do offer a few other plans, but the ala carte offering worked best for me.
      • by pegr (46683)
        There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

         
        And they're not getting sued! Bonus!
      • I really don't know why anyone would go with Vonage to begin with. There are other options that are cheaper, better audio quality, demand lower bandwidth and provide a greater free calling area with significantly reduced international calling rates.

        A) Vonage has free calling to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Spain, France, Italy, the UK, and Ireland (with the unlimited plan). If that area doesn't satisfy your needs, you're probably a niche customer, not the general public. I haven't looked at their rates

    • Strangely enough, the first moderation on my comment was "Overrated". Why is that even an option for a comment that hasn't even been "rated" yet? Then it looks like some kind soul came along with an "Underrated" to fix it.
  • Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpiffyMarc (590301) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:48PM (#18283254)
    Another win for the little guy! It's always nice when the system works.
    • Create debt. Maintain debt. Keep people in debt. Work them until they die of debt.

      How does this judgement affect the greater system?
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:55PM (#18283330) Journal
        Well, you see, this one group of rich guys tried to screw over this other group of rich guys, but the second group of rich guys was like, "Oh no you didn't!" and the first group was like "What're you gonna do about it!" and then the jury said "We find in favor of the rich guys!"

        So you see, EVERYTHING is different now. Duh.
        • I don't often see these things as groups of rich guys trying to screw each other over. Usually these things are a sign of rich guys meeting on the golf course and saying,"You know, if we make it look like we're at each other's throats, then we could slowly and carefully raise the monthly rates on the millions of investing idiots who take the news at face value every morning."

          Which group of rich guys did this benefit? Even rich guys stratify. Usually the stratification of rich guys gives insight into upco
      • by Colin Smith (2679)
        It's worse than that, the very money you use is based upon you being in debt.
    • by Walzmyn (913748)
      Sorry, when did our justice system become about helping the little guy? Even little guys can do Bad Things last time I checked.
    • by rodgster (671476)
      I just don't understand. Maybe I need to read the patents and look @ the filing dates

      Isn't there prior art? I remember using Intel Internet Phone back in 1996. It was VOIP but it used email addresses or IP addresses to connect and didn't go to landlines phone handsets, but really isn't it obviously the next step, that and use phone numbers instead if IPs (I used IPs). And it was free.
  • by iswm (727826)
    "Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing," said John Thorne, Verizon deputy general counsel, in a statement. Yeah, for whatever company holds the patents. Using this same logic, wouldn't it help everyone a whole lot more if whatever technologies that are patented were allowed to be used by anyone? I hate patents.
  • I'm hopeing a company(Vonage) dropped alot of cash in political coffers. Not that I'm a care about that particular company, but this might be big enough to be the catalyst for serious patent reform that we so need.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have searched around and can't find the patent numbers that Verizon is claiming Vonage is violating. Anyone have a link to them or their numbers?

    What a sickening outcome - even more sickening is it is just another in an endless farcical parade of patent lawsuits that show no sign of stopping.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Vonage was told to pay 5.5% in royalties each month for each customer."

    Wow, 5.5% for each customer you say? With 2.2 million customers that works out to 12100000% per month! Seems a little harsh if you ask me!
  • How can vonage claim patents on connecting things to the phone network ? Of course the TFA might be oversimplifying a bit.
  • by honkycat (249849) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:06PM (#18283452) Homepage Journal

    as well as 5.5% in royalty fees per month per customer
    Hope they don't have more than 18 customers or that's more than 100%!!
    • Hope they don't have more than 18 customers or that's more than 100%!!

      So, are you a math teacher in Kentucky or California?

  • by QuebecNerd (924754) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:06PM (#18283464)
    I read a few articles on that news this afternoon but they are mainly aimed at the financial aspect of the story. I'm still trying to find what exactly are those patents and what are the larger (if any) implications for VOIP in general. Open Source Software like Asterisk could eventually suffer if Verizon begins a patent war and Vonage was only this first victim.

    Traditional carrier are having a hard time adjusting to new technology and they will try anything to keep their old ways to stay relevant. During the last few years this happened in many 'traditional' sectors, music and movies being two of them. In the long run, they will adjust or die but for now all of those dinosaurs are desperate to keep their heads above the water. The crippled patent system is their flotation device...

    This quote is from CNN's article on the subject coming from a Verizon lawyer:

    "Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing. Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world,"

    Enough said!
  • Right... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:14PM (#18283532) Homepage
    "Patents encourage and protect innovations that benefit consumers, create jobs, and keep the economy growing," said John Thorne, Verizon deputy general counsel, in a statement. "Verizon's innovations are central to its strategy of building the best communications networks in the world."

    So they want to put Vonage out of business to .. um ... keep the economy going and create jobs? Why not just do the sensible thing [sadly in this case] and either buy out Vonage, or license the patents to them.

    Though, the idea of "phone calls over the net" isn't exactly non-obvious or new. It would have been nice if the article could cite the patents they are violating....

    Oh well..
    • Why not just do the sensible thing [sadly in this case] and either buy out Vonage, or license the patents to them.

      For the same reason that the ??AA companies don't just buy out other companies that are making use of their content: those companies threaten their entire archaic business model and force them to make costly changes to their infrastructure that they otherwise would be able to put off for years or even decades. It's far cheaper to sue another company to put them out of business than it is to bu
      • Well we're not talking media. Your argument would make sense if the mafiaa went after legit billable distribution systems (which they do... oddly enough).

        I really don't get why this is so complicated though. We have everything we need to do net-2-net calls, in portable nice interoperable fashions. I don't know why we bother with phone numbers [in the way they're used] anymore. Everyone should just have a 10 digit number which is their phone number. Dish them out like you would IP addresses so you can r
  • by cgenman (325138) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:15PM (#18283538) Homepage
    Ideal:
    Person A has a brilliant, rare idea. Person A invests years in refining and expanding said idea. Person A goes out and patents said idea. Person A opens a business with said idea, reaping customer praise and financial reward.

    The patent has encouraged creativity and expanded the market.

    Reality:
    Person A has a somewhat obvious idea. Companys B, C, D, and E without investing in refining or developing the idea run out and patent said idea. Patent is granted to Company B (and sometimes C,D,and E too). Company B sits on patent, preventing anyone else from opening said business in order to protect the large profit margins on their current offering. 15 years later Company B sells the rights to said patent to Clearinghouse F. Clearinghouse F takes the broadest possible view of said patent, and sues everyone in the business. Years of fun in courthouse G ensues.

    The patent has prevented the use of the idea or object patented, and has been used to bleed money from companies who do produce things.

  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:25PM (#18283614)
    How is Vonage supposed to have any revenues if an injunction is imposed? I suppose they could write some new code that doesn't infringe on the patent, but how would Verizon have any claim to the revenues?
    • by cdrudge (68377)
      I believe the royalties are back dated, so right off the bat Vonage owes a chunk of change. And if you were Verizon, which would you prefer, a 5.5% revenue stream but a competitor that is becoming more and more popular that has a cheaper, better product, no no competitor at all?
  • I don't get it..

    i havent seen any stories about any cases of good old fashioned "jury nullification" since the civil rights era when it was used to protect racist groups and institutions...

    i don't get it.. it's ok to use jury nullification to beat up on african americans but its not to tell a near monopoly "no, we won't allow you to destroy one of your very few competitors"?

    I think we need to start a new biggotry movement that somehow involves monopolistic patent trolls.. then we'll see some action.
  • The article claims that Vonage was in violation of "3 out of 5" patents owned by Verizon, but does not list any information about the actual patents except to claim that they dealt with call waiting and voicemail. I did a little research and was unable to find any reference to these patent numbers. Does anyone have any more information on the patents or their actual numbers or the court filings?
  • Alternative (Score:2, Informative)

    by nbucking (872813)
    Why is Vonage taking the flame for VOIP? Isn't there other buisnesses out there that allow people to use the public phone lines for comunication from computer to phone. I use skype which does not have a monthly payment(12 months for $24 for an phone number and voicemail)and 2 cents a minute for calls made in the US. Also, I do enjoy the video phone functionality of it.
    • You beat them up one at a time, starting with the one that you think you'll beat easiest and that are likely to give some returns. Once you've beaten one then there is a bit of precedence which makes your club bigger and their skulls thinner.

      You also don't beat up ones that the jury (if there is one, I didn't RTFA) are most likely to be using personally or see as "The Good Guys". ie. Don't beat up on Skype. There are a lot of people who use Skype personally and a jury of those people would likely feel that

  • RIP VoIP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShawnDoc (572959) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:42PM (#18284372) Homepage
    This is essentially the end of VoIP if this decision holds. Basically, Verizon claims patents on connecting a VoIP line to a PSTN line and on common billing methods for phone service. Verizon was the first one they went after because they are the most high profile. Expect them to leverage this victory to take on anyone else offer VoIP to PSTN service.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:44PM (#18284394) Homepage Journal
    With this decision, Verizon has just derailed the horde of VoIP startup/conversion trains rolling down the tracks into the future. I picture a caped, curly-mustached Verizon villain with a box and plunger detonating a high bridge made of glass fiber.
    • by ivan256 (17499)
      Easy to work around...

      6137869: Have a fixed/flat rate for all of your customers/calls, thus negating the need to store rates in a database at all.
      6104711: Refer to all endpoints by IP address
      6282574: Same
      6298062: Enable voicemail for all customers. Don't allow them to turn it off.
      6359880: Stop selling cordless VOIP phones. Customers can buy them from third parties anyway.
  • This is bullshit.
    I say we should boycott Verizon and refuse to pay any outstanding verizon bills till they back off.
    • I'm a Vonage customer, so I already do.

      Wait, 5.5% of $25.00/mo = $1.375 -- looks like Verizon is STILL getting me for TouchTone(tm) all these years later.
  • by Cocoshimmy (933014) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @11:42PM (#18285320)
    The patents in question seem to have claim to have invented VOIP in 1999. However, the free world dialup project has been around since 1995 [freeworlddialup.com]. Also, back in 1998-1999 I remember Microsoft was offering free PC-Phone calls to the US using MSN Messenger. Their partner was charging for the same service. I think that would certainly qualify as prior art.
    • by Cocoshimmy (933014) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:25AM (#18286856)
      I don't know why my parent post got modded as a troll as they are all valid points. Perhaps I did not cite my references.

      As someone mentioned earlier, here are the patent numbers: 6137869 [billing algorithm for voip], 6104711 [dns for voip],6282574 [dns for voip], 6298062 [conversion of PSTN signals to IP packets and providing PSTN services over IP networks], 6359880 [Wireless VOIP router]. I am not going to link these to the patent office because it's tedious, but you can look them up for yourself.

      Net2Phone, launched their VOIP services back in 1997 [net2phone.com]. In order to establish said services they implemented most if not all of the above claimed patents and did so before most of the patent applications were filed. The only two which were filed before the service was launched were the first two patents in the above list and they are certainly not unique and unobvious. Billing for VOIP services? Pretty obvious since they announced their pay service in 1995 which was 2 years prior to the patent application. The second one was simply DNS extended to provide things like caller ID. Not exactly ground breaking but this is perhaps the only leverage they may have IF nobody else was providing VOIP services at the time or prior to. That is a big IF because it is likely many of the telcos were already using something similar for digital cell phone networks such as GSM (which is also a packet network created around 1993).

      Of course there is also the Network Voice Protocol [wikipedia.org] which was the first implementation of VOIP invented in 1973 which preceded all the patents. My point is, they really don't have much of a case with these patents.
  • What's that sound?

    Vonage's business model evaporating.

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