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Patents Communications Your Rights Online

Preliminary Finding Invalidates VoIP Patent 77

Posted by kdawson
from the most-wanted dept.
netbuzz writes "After a review, the US Patent Office has issued a preliminary finding that the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls 'an important first step in busting a patent that stifles innovation and the use of VoIP as a free speech tool.' (Here is the EFF's press release.) C2 Communications has used the patent to extract one-time payments from the likes of AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest."
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Preliminary Finding Invalidates VoIP Patent

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  • Re:Free VoIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by popeye44 (929152) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @01:55PM (#33677986)

    I have a question in cases like this, Assume you paid 1 billion dollars to this company. Can you now ask for it back because their patent was invalidated? "probably not I'm guessing"

  • Re:Free VoIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Algorithmnast (1105517) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @01:59PM (#33678070)

    IANAL, but I would think that if company A coerces company B into leasing rights to use a patented idea... then the contract would probably have a "too bad sucker" clause in it for just this possibility.

    In other words: the contract would either specify the answer and preclude a lawsuit, or it would (foolishly) leave the issue unanswered which might encourage the suit.

    Of course, even if companies sued and won the money back, they'd probably never see a penny - the company likely paid out all of its money to employees and/or stockholders. And you can't really sue them.

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:16PM (#33678276) Journal

    Claim 1:

    1. A method of routing a full duplex telephone call between a first telephone set and a second telephone set using a public computer network as at least part of a communication link connecting said first and second telephone sets, comprising the steps of:

    receiving at a first computer network access port a first telephone call from a central office placed from said fist[sic] telephone set initiating said full duplex telephone call, said first telephone call specifying a telephone number of said second telephone set, without specifying additional telephone destinations;

    converting data received from the central office to an Intenet protocol;

    establishing a communication link over said public computer network between said first computer network access port and a remote second computer network access port;

    placing a second telephone call from said second computer network access port to said second telephone set using a PSTN;

    converting data received from the public computer network from Intenet protocol to a PSTN protocol; and

    connecting said first telephone call, said communication link and said second telephone call to thereby establish a telephone call between said first telephone set and said second telephone set.

    A little broad, but then again it was filed in 1995 which is over a year before H.323 was even published. Note the requirement of a PSTN: If you are just making a VoIP call over Skype this patent does not cover that since there is no PSTN. In fact, and Pure VoIP call is outside the scope of this patent. I wonder if the EFF had been around in the 1870's if they would have been accusing Alexander Graham Bell of "stifling free speech" with the original telephone....

  • Re:Free VoIP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamhigh (1252742) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:39PM (#33678510)

    the company likely paid out all of its money to employees and/or stockholders. And you can't really sue them.

    Can we get this changed? I understand not being able to sue an employee that was just doing a job, but "stockholders" are owners of a company. They benefit when it makes money and suffer when it loses money. Why don't they also benefit (as in no intervention) when it does so legally, and suffer (through jail or fines) when it does so illegally?

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser