The Mad Scramble over VoIP Patents

21 March 2007

Before the ruling in the Verizon VoIP case, the benefits of suing for infringement in were far from clear. Now, however, VoIP lawsuits could come from inventors both big and small. For example, a Long Island (N.Y.)-based patent holder, Rates Technology, which has received payments from the likes of Cisco and Verizon, has claims pending against Cablevision and a small telecom equipment manufacturer in New York.

Anthony Cataldo, chief executive of Internet-calling provider VoIP, Inc., closely watched the recent patent dispute between Verizon Communications and Vonage Holdings. Upon learning of the Mar. 8 decision by a jury that Vonage infringed on Verizon patents, Cataldo asked lawyers to start proceedings against companies that he says are using his company's technology. "You are going to see a lot of demand letters going out from us," he says.

Letters will go out from him—and a lot of others. On the heels of the Verizon verdict, expect a flurry of lawsuits by holders of patents on the technology that delivers phone calls the same way e-mail travels over the Internet, legal experts and industry executives say. "We were waiting to see how [the Verizon-Vonage case] was going to work out," says VoIP Chief Operating Officer Shawn Lewis. "[The verdict] has opened up the validity of protecting the patents."

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