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Skype accused of patent infringement

Point-to-point connection dispute

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Internet telephony pioneer Net2Phone is suing the industry's most successful consumer internet telephony firm for patent infringement.

IDT subsidiary Net2Phone is taking Skype to court, along with parent company eBay, over patent number 6,108,704, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) patent granted in the US which it says Skype has infringed.

The patent, granted in 2000, related to a system which connected two users after initial email contact. They are then connected in a telephone call which is routed over the internet.

The suit, filed in the District Court of New Jersey, takes on one of the industry's giants. Skype was founded in 2003, yet was sold to eBay last year for $26bn. It has over 100m users all over the world. Dell recently announced that Skype software would come automatically loaded to many of its laptop computers.

Skype allows computer users anywhere in the world to call each other for free but charges for computer-to-phone calls. It is currently in the middle of a major US promotional drive, making all computer-to-phone calls free for the rest of the year.

Net2Phone alleges that it is the system by which the point-to-point connection is established that infringes its patent. In contrast, systems run by more traditional telecoms companies centrally manage a phone network to connect users.

See: Net2Phone's patent

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