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Communications Patents United Kingdom

British Telecom Claims Patents on VOIP Session Initiation Protocol 116

An anonymous reader writes with bad news for operators of SIP gateways. From the article: "VoIP-to-PSTN termination providers and SIP vendors will be watching their inboxes for a lawyer's letter from BT, which has kicked off a licensing program levying a fee on the industry, based on a list of 99 patents .. The British incumbent is offering to allow third parties to use the Session Initiation Protocol under a license agreement... BT is requesting either $US50,000 or a combination of 0.3 percent of future revenue from affected products, plus 0.3 percent of the last six months' sales for products as 'past damages.' It's kindly offering a discount for customers that pay up within six weeks of receiving a BT letter of demand, and there's a premium to $US60,000 and 0.36 percent of revenue for those who hold out."
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British Telecom Claims Patents on VOIP Session Initiation Protocol

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:40AM (#43600371)

    If you fail to vigorously defend your patent equally and uniformly against all known cases of infringement from the day you file, you lose the patent. Period.

  • by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:49AM (#43600467) Homepage

    All ITSPs then should ditch SIP for PSTN trunking and move to support IAX2.

    That would be to presume none of these patents implicate IAX2. After all, they're not claiming a patent on SIP, they're claiming patents on what SIP does. Providers would want to be sure IAX2 is not going to be found to be infringing before making the effort to migrate.

    What would be better would be concerted work on having as many of these patents invalidated as possible. Hopefully the remaining ones can then be worked around.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:50AM (#43600483) Journal

    Because we don't have enough slavering mindless patent attacks in the courts right now?

    You're trying to raise the bar on keeping patents, I'm sure. A noble goal. But the people who want to keep their patents will happily crank out their litigation tempo if that's what it takes.

    Your proposal is full of blowback. The solution is worse than the problem.

    Just say it out loud: Abolish software patents.

  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:50AM (#43600489) Homepage

    There needs to be some sort of "horse has left the barn" exemption to patent enforceability. If a patent holder sits quietly and watches while an industry develops around something they believe to be infringing, it's not reasonable to allow them to wait until billions of dollars are at stake and then suddenly show up with a demand for payment.

    That's not at all in the spirit of patent law. The purpose was to allow the patent holder the ability to exploit their own invention, not to allow them to sit on their asses doing nothing and then exploit everyone else's work.

  • Re:who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timftbf (48204) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @09:51AM (#43600517)

    Actually, much of the BT set-up makes a whole lot of sense.

    There *is* a natural monopoly in putting copper (or glass) in the ground or on poles, and the part of BT that does this is a distinct entity.

    The parts of BT that sell everything from residential phone lines to corporate GigE circuits have to buy from the infrastructure part of BT on *exactly* the same terms as any other telecoms service provider. It's about as much of a level playing field as you're ever going to get...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @10:20AM (#43600779)

    I work for a VoIP provider, based in a UK and have several direct SIP links to BT - so they know we use it! The irony is they can't charge us these license fees because currently the law in the UK prevents them.

  • Re:who cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @10:21AM (#43600797) Journal

    BT is just another failed Tory privatisation,

    It's a success compared to what the old public BT used to be like. Most privatisations have been disasterous, this one was already a disaster, so it's not been too bad.

  • by Cassini2 (956052) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @10:22AM (#43600803)

    Somehow, i suspect British Telecom was smart enough to get the US version of this patent, and software patents are fair game in the US.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @10:23AM (#43600819) Journal


    Patents ought to be like Trademarks

    It's a statement of opinion of how the author wishes things to be not how he believes they are.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.