Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Government The Courts News

Vonage and Verizon — Prepare for Round 2 49

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fight-night dept.
According to the New York Times, Vonage is preparing to take it's case back down to the lower courts for a retrial of the lawsuit against them from Verizon. Their hope is that with newer approaches set forth by the supreme court that the lower courts will be able to decide whether Verizon's patent(s) are ordinary/obvious or deserve patent protection. I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Vonage and Verizon — Prepare for Round 2

Comments Filter:
  • by Stormwave0 (799614)
    Forgive me as it's been a while since I looked at the patent documents. But I do recall posters here on slashdot found prior art that could (possibly) be used to deem the patents invalid. Why try to invalidate a patent on obviousness when you can just use prior art? Seems like that would be the easier option.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @02:13PM (#18960063) Journal
      Because prior art that does not directly invalidate the patent will go a long way toward showing the obviousness of the invention it protects
      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        And this is a very very good thing indeed - especially for open source. This may have impact on Many Many patents such as the MS "FAT" patents, Amazon's One Click, the NTP patents that bit RIM, etc. Frankly, I would bet that 90% of the dot bomb patents have related prior art that would raise the "obviousness" question. The problem is cost of challenging these patents. Hugely expensive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Eddi3 (1046882)
      Aren't they basically the same thing? If it's obvious, there will probably be prior art, just because of its obviousness. And, if there's prior art, and these two companies developed systems parallel to each other, as well as other companies, it's probably an obvious invention/solution.

        - Eddie
      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @03:21PM (#18961139) Journal
        Aren't they basically the same thing? If it's obvious, there will probably be prior art, just because of its obviousness.

        No, they're not.

        "Prior art" means it's already been done that way, or exactly that way of doing it has been described publicly.

        "Obvious" means that if a person "skilled in the art" sets out to actually do it, he's likely to come up with that way of doing it as one of his design options. It does NOT mean:
          - It's already been done that way.
          - That way of doing it has already been described.

        There are a number of reasons an "obvious" invention would not be prior art. One of the biggest is that the technology might not have gotten to the point were it's practical to practice such an invention. Another is that the business environment may not yet make use of the invention a good business plan. Once these externalities are resolved and people are set to do the task, the "obvious" inventions are then detail-designed and implemented. Sometimes, once it becomes clear that they WILL be resolved, people begin planning and publishing.

        Both of these apply here.

        Once these externalities are resolved and people are set to do the task, the "obvious" inventions are then detail-designed and implemented. Sometimes, once it becomes clear that they WILL be resolved, people begin planning and publishing - for instance: in academia, or in standards organizations.

        Both of these have happened here.

        But if "obvious" is abandoned and "prior art" required, it becomes possible for an alert businessman to lock up the obvious ways of doing things by rushing to the patent office with a flurry of applications for every obvious solution that nobody has happened to have published on or done - often because it's so obvious they thought there was no point in mentioning it.

        Think about it: What's "the internet way to build a phone company"?
          - Use a stock streaming VoIP protocol to carry calls on the internet.
          - Use VOIP/POTS bridge servers at price-convenient locations when you need to contact to a POTS phone (or connect two POTS phones to each other over your IP service).
          - Use a database (such as DNS) to translate user identification information to routing information - which includes:
                a) Phone number and preferred VoIP/POTS bridge address(es) when the called phone is on the POTS side.
                b) Multiple possible sites and the preferred order for trying them (call forwarding)
                c) A registration entry made by a portable wireless phone when it associated access point as it moved into range.
          - Also use databases to authorize calls and record billing information when calls are made.

        Obvious, right? If somebody set you to do this that's what YOU'D do, right?

        Well a), b), and c) are what Verizon claimed are their non-obvious inventions - and got the patent office and a lower court to agree and almost KILL Vonage by blocking them from doing anything like it.

        (I think they also claimed tying authorization and billing for VoIP or VoIP/POTS bridged calls into database authorization/billing systems, too.)
      • How do you prove something is obvious without prior art? There will always be a need for prior art references. Especially when the USPTO doesn't get to an application for a few years. What is obvious today might have been insightful 3 years ago. Many patent applicants go into business with a "patent pending". If someone's own efforts in the marketplace (after filing an application) renders their own invention obvious, then things are even more broken than now.

        The biggest problem with prior art on sla
    • by mavenguy (126559)
      If the invention is disclosed in a single document (printed publication, patent) with the requisite date, it anticipates the claimed invention under one or more provisions of 35 USC 102 (lack of novelty). It is only when no one prior art reference discloses the claimed invention that the question of obviousness under 35 USC 103 arises, usually requiring at least one additional piece of prior art to support it. It is technically true that a claim rejected/invalidated for lack of novelty under 35 USC 102 impl
  • Obligatory: (Score:5, Funny)

    by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @02:28PM (#18960323) Journal
    FTF Summary:

    I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?


    Vonage addressing the courts about the obviousness of the patents: ... Can you hear me now?

    Verizon: We object!
  • Would the onus fall upon Vongage to demonstrate this (presumably).

    Does anyone know enough about the patent who can comment on what specifics Verizon claims is original. As I recall, the idea of "voice over IP" has been around for quite some time, so I wonder what part of this technology Verizon claims is theirs and truly original and protected.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DoctaStooge (1028066)
      There are 3 patents in all. 2 of these cover the switching between IP telephony and PSTN telephony. These patents use the ideas of ip->ip calls, pstn->pstn calls, and basically what is a DNS setup in between to facilitate the switching of packets between these two types of telephony networks. Verizon claims the "dns" part as the actual invention, although the patents just contain an idea, and no actual description of how it is implemented. This switching problem was worked on by SIP and H.323 in
    • Does anyone know enough about the patent who can comment on what specifics Verizon claims is original. As I recall, the idea of "voice over IP" has been around for quite some time, so I wonder what part of this technology Verizon claims is theirs and truly original and protected.

      Based on another article on the topic that I read earlier today, Verizon's patents don't cover VoIP entirely, but they do cover some general schemes for translating IP addresses into phone numbers and vice versa. E.g., a Skype-like
  • This is great news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kilodelta (843627) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @02:38PM (#18960523) Homepage
    I'm a happy Vonage subscriber and was thrilled when the USSC essentially gutted patent law as it exists.

    Not only do I think Vonage will prevail in this case, I also think they should pursue a case against Verizon for anti-trust.

    And in other news, Verizon RI lost $9.7 million last year. I had long thought they'd lost at a maximum a third their business but it gets better, 43% of land lines in RI aren't Verizon land lines any longer. So what does Verizon do to counter the loss? They hike rates.

    A good anti-trust action would be the kick needed to fracture Verizon into a million little pieces. Then the new at&t had better watch out.

    Lets face it, VoIP was and is known as a disruptive technology. Brilliant little idea, use the IP capability built into most telephone switches to take advantage of excess switching capacity. And in the end, disruptive technologies almost ALWAYS win.
    • Not only do I think Vonage will prevail in this case, I also think they should pursue a case against Verizon for anti-trust.

      I'm not sure I agree. It depends on what you think Vonage would use as the grounds for an anti-trust suit. If you propose that they claim Verizon is using their position to punish through patent lawsuits, that probably wouldn't work. Vonage depends on the recent Supreme Court ruling to vacate and re-try the case, which means that prior to this ruling, Verizon had a "legitimate" case

    • FYI: The commonly accepted acronym of the United States Supreme Court is SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States).
      • by kilodelta (843627)
        It isn't so common in the judicial system. USSC does just fine as it expands to United States Supreme Court.
        • by belg4mit (152620)
          Yeah yeah, so I learned from a coworker in environmental law recently.
          What's your point? Lawyers can't even write intelligible English,
          so why should I care that they can't be bothered to keep uo with
          conventions that actually happen to be relevant?

          USSC could expand to any number of things, and only through context is
          it "apparent" what the author meant. USSC also looks a lot like USMC.
          (VERA does not have SCOTUS but if you give it USSC it gives you USMC
          USSR and USSS)

          Q: What do you call a thousand lawye
          • by kilodelta (843627)
            What do you call a bus load of lawyers going off a cliff?

            A Shame.

            What do you call the same bus with two seat empty?

            A Crying Shame.
            • Lawyers are just terrible leeches, drains on society - except when you've been accused of something you didn't do, and Big Corp, or the government, or someone with a grudge wants to work you over. Then suddenly a lawyer is your best friend. Ask anyone who has ever been sued or iniated a torts action, or been brought to court on criminal charges.

              • by kilodelta (843627)
                I have to admit something here. Even though I do crack on lawyers I do consulting work for quite a few of them. They pay nicely and I'm not about to put them down completely.
              • Except that the system in which those things are possible (and indeed likely) has been set up by guess who - the congress, virtually all of whom are lawyers.
      • by belg4mit (152620)
        Heh, I was just coming to say the same thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Morkano (786068)
      I don't know how this lawsuit is hurting them financially, but it can't be all bad. I just moved and was looking for a phone solution a while back. I was considering just ditching a landline and getting a cell. But then I saw these articles on Slashdot and actually saw how cheap Vonage was. $20/mo for everything, how can you beat that? There's no contract, only a $40 installation fee.

      Even if they crash at the end of the summer, I'll have only paid $30/mo for a good phone system. I call that a good deal.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kinabrew (1053930)
        I pay a company called Sunrocket about $17/month for unlimited calls [sunrocket.com], and Sunrocket has no installation fee.
        • by Morkano (786068)
          I should mention that it had to be avaliable in Canada. And since a lot of my friends are moving and don't have phones yet, if I can talk them into getting Vonage I can free months.
          • I should mention that it had to be avaliable in Canada. And since a lot of my friends are moving and don't have phones yet, if I can talk them into getting Vonage I can free months.
            yeah- the nice thing is that I can be in LA and have both a local LA number and a virtual number that's a local call in Canada, so it takes care of long distance in both directions pretty cheap.
    • by Isvara (898928)

      Brilliant little idea, use the IP capability built into most telephone switches to take advantage of excess switching capacity.
      Most telephone switches (by which I mean the ones used by telcos) aren't IP-based -- they're not even packet switched. The capacity being used is that of Internet switching fabric, which is an entirely different network (altogether!).
      • by kilodelta (843627)
        True, it's an interface card to the switching fabric. But still, there's lots of underutilized switching fabric out there and that is what VoIP took advantage of.
  • FTA:

    I wonder if this time it will be more obvious to the courts that Verizon's patents aren't so original?
    Ok, so this is going back to the lower courts and the SC managed to side-step the deeper aspects of this case... so it would be interesting to hear from the legal experts as to what broader ramifications we could expect to see from a Vonage win in a re-trial...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Ok, so this is going back to the lower courts and the SC managed to side-step the deeper aspects of this case...

      Seems to me they hit the nail squarely on the head.

      so it would be interesting to hear from the legal experts as to what broader ramifications we could expect to see from a Vonage win in a re-trial...

      IANAL but it seems to me that SCOTUS just pulled the rug out from under all the bogus "do this well-understood thing but ON THE INTERNET" patents.

      Verizon vs. Vonage might be the snowball that starts t
  • I mean - who would have ever thought of putting IP-based phone traffic over the PTSN! Wait - wasn't that why it was created - and by a company Cisco acquired a company whose name escapes me for their VOIP systems back in the late 90s... Cisco would have NEVER thought of THAT!
  • ENUM (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Folks,

    There is a public standard called ENUM that is defined by an IETF RFC and that basically involves the mapping of a Telephone Number (TN) to IP address, which is at the core of the Verizon patent.

    ENUM in its public and carrier implementations is basically DNS for VoIP. It resolves TN to IP address, email, IM ID, or other strings that can be used to reach the user. Most if not all ENUM Addressing Servers are built on top of DNS server capabilities.

    It's an obvious use of an existing technology. By the sa
  • The proper term is "its." "It's" is an abbreviation for "it is," while "its" signifies that "it" possesses something.
  • ROUND 2! (Score:2, Funny)

    by sexybomber (740588)
    FIGHT!

    (cue Mortal Kombat theme)
  • Everyone is talking about "KSR INTERNATIONAL CO. v. TELEFLEX INC. ET AL." expanding obviousness. That was not the most important decision of the day.

    MICROSOFT CORP. v. AT&T CORP. was. Check this out:

    (a) A copy of Windows, not Windows in the abstract, qualifies as a"component" under 271(f). Section 271(f) attaches liability to the supply abroad of the "components of a patented invention, where such components are uncombined in whole or in part, in such manner as to actively induce the combination of su
  • If I am reading the decision correctly, SCOTUS has changed the game by ruling that a patent fails the obviousness test if:

    1) Any ordinarily skilled person in that area of expertise would, if they set about building a device to do what the patented device does, come up with nearly the same solution you did. In other words, you can't patent sending email over a cellular network, because anyone with email/cellular networking experience would come up with the same system you did (or one substantially similar).

    2
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      JPEG, WMV, and most other codecs mostly do minor adaptations to compression techniques that have been around since the 1960s, and as such, should have very few valid patents (despite the huge number of patents that have been granted in these areas).

      Codecs are also a good example of when interoperability should trump patentability. IMHO, data formats and the means needed to convert data formats to a standard format should not be protected under any body of intellectual property law (including patents), as

      • by dave1g (680091)
        That actually sounds like a good compromise in that case. Allow compression routines to be patented, but not the decompression routine. Since the decompresser is useless without compressed content. the patent owner is guaranteed money from the compressor but does get to lock up content with licensing fees cus no one can pay to decompress their own stuff.
    • 1) Any ordinarily skilled person in that area of expertise would, if they set about building a device to do what the patented device does, come up with nearly the same solution you did. In other words, you can't patent sending email over a cellular network, because anyone with email/cellular networking experience would come up with the same system you did (or one substantially similar).

      I guess my problem with this is: Who makes this decision? This sounds like another boondoggle of "Expert Witnesses." Basically, whoever can come up with the most people that say it either is or is not obvious is the winner. Always remembering of course that EVERYTHING is obvious in hindsight. That objection BTW does not necessary have anything to do with this particular case, but is IMHO a definite potential problem to the "obvious" rule in possible future cases.

      Would for example the simple claw hammer c

  • I hope Vonage burns in hell for the way they treat their customers. Anyone here ever tried to cancel their service successfully? Wait until you hear about the surprise $40 "cancellation fee" that they charge you per month after you've cancelled your service. Fuck Vonage. Fuck them in their VoIP asshole.

The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.

Working...