Feeds

Sprint Nextel and Verizon jury trials have Vonage on the brink

Patent defeat wounds Vonage further

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Sprint has won a second jury trial over patent infringement against US VoIP service Vonage, in what is an echo of the defeat inflicted earlier by Verizon.

The patent numbers used in the Sprint Nextel case versus Vonage could all be about the same patent, the process of mapping a narrowband message, for instance a PSTN network, to packet based networks. This is the same kind of territory the Verizon patents came from and it's all about connecting VoIP to the PSTN.

The Verizon patents were about handoffs from switched circuits to VoIP and funnily enough that's just what the Sprint patents are all about, except in every case they talk solely about translation into Asynchronous Transfer Mode. The Verizon stuff also dealt with issues relating to how a call is billed or authorised when it comes from a VoIP network to a switched circuit system.

What is interesting is that Vonage uses standard off the shelf Soft Switches supplied by companies that have been operating in the area for years and which for the most part have patent sharing agreements with these companies, but these are not under suit. The technology that Vonage uses is not its own, but is basic VoIP best practice among suppliers.

Neither case is about any of the SIP patents, because these are held largely by AT&T, which it rightly declared when setting the SIP standard. SIP or session initiation protocol is used at the core of the vast majority of VoIP implementations and is an IETF standard. It will also be used at the core of future IMS architectures and although there may be royalties payable by equipment makers, that’s all part and parcel of the VoIP community going forwards.

While we are not telecoms engineers, it seems to us that what is at stake here is that the US telcos believe that VoIP as such is not the issue. What is the issue is connecting VoIP systems to their older PSTN networks. Once an obvious and simple mapping appears between the two systems and it is patented, it shuts the door on the entire VoIP industry. So those patents were applied for and awarded with the sole intention of keeping VoIP networks OUT of PSTN connectivity.

This leads us to the view that a Supreme Court Appeal has to reverse these decisions, and that the US Federal Communication Commission needs to step in and make it clear that Telcos cannot expect to rule the roost on connectivity to their networks through the backdoor of dubious patents.

The Sprint case talks about Joe Christie, an employee at Sprint’s Advanced Technology Laboratory coming up with most of the Sprint patents. Christie died in 1996 says the court transcript, and yet most of the filings in his name are filed after that date.

Patent number 6,473,429 was filed in 1999 and refers to connecting Asynchronous Transfer Mode to a circuit switched architecture, patent number 6,665,294 was filed in 2002 and refers to connecting Asynchronous Transfer Mode to a circuit switched architecture. Patent number 6,298,064 was filed in 2000. Guess what it referred to?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts
Complain to Ofcom that telco has 'effective monopoly'
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?