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iPhone's visual voicemail ain't so new

Patent holder sees Apple in court

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Klausner Technologies has filed suit against Apple, and AT&T, for infringing its patent for providing a visual representation of incoming messages, a claim that has convinced AOL and Vonage to pay up in the past.

Klausner Technologies has filed the case in the patent-holders' favourite, the Eastern District of Texas, and is claiming Apple has infringed two of their patents, 5,283,818 and 5,572,576. Both cover the user's ability to select recorded messages for playback out of chronological order:

This enables the user to access messages in a selective manner based on the identity of the caller. The need to listen to the actual voice messages to determine the caller's identity and the need to listen to the messages sequentially or chronologically is obviated, saving both time and effort.

Which would seem to be an accurate description of Visual Voicemail, a feature exclusive to the iPhone.

It was enough to convince AOL to pay for a licence in 2005 when it ended up in court with Klausner over a similar feature in their VoIP client, and Vonage also felt obliged to get a licence. More recently, Cablevision and Skype have heard from Klausner lawyers.

Klausner Technologies has about 25 patents covering various aspects of mobile telephony, and makes no apparent attempt to develop products based on its ideas - it simply licenses them to those caught infringing. ®

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