Verizon, Vonage and Patents

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Verizon, Vonage and Patents

Apparently the IP communications market never stops working as a number of people have sent me links to my quotes from various newspapers and websites this weekend. So far I have blogged about being quoted in the Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
 
It seems some of these articles were picked up in other newspapers such as the Nashua Telegraph and Baltimore Sun. I actually was interviewed by a bunch of other reporters yesterday as well. Hopefully these articles will hit soon as well.
 
The Vonage patent courtroom adventure has certainly been something the mainstream press has covered well but one can’t help but wonder if it will do any damage in the long term to Vonage or other VoIP providers.
 
Will the perception of VoIP now be tarnished to the point where customers no longer even want to buy IP communications from Verizon?
 
The answer is likely that memories are short and if the Verizon patent lawsuit goes away soon and the Sprint patent lawsuit (yes there is yet another one of these coming soon) disappears quickly, Vonage and others will not see long-term effects.
 
We can also look at Blackberry as an example of people continuing to purchase this product/service combination after the threat of a network shutdown (see Top 8 Things to do if Blackberry Gets Shut Down).
 
Perhaps just as importantly is whether this is the start of major VoIP patent wars where Verizon will end up spending more money on defending their own technology than they previously thought?
 
One reporter asked me yesterday why there are so many patent suits coming down the pike. This question was likely prompted by me telling him that lately I have been repeatedly asked to be an expert witness in the VoIP and IP communications market.
 
The truth is I am not sure why the time is now to sue over IP communications and other technologies but I believe it may have to do with the NTP vs. RIM patent lawsuit which was settled for over 600 million dollars.
 
This is a nice chunk of change to pick up due to a patent. I don’t even think Powerball goes that high. ;)
 
But regardless of what has prompted this change, it looks like we will have to get used to seeing companies who use their patent portfolios as weapons. Just as importantly it seems companies will have to earmark more of their budgets towards patent applications.
 
I don’t think this is a good thing but it is without a doubt inevitable based on what we are seeing happening in the technology market. Let’s just hope this new trend does not stifle innovation from smaller companies who cannot afford to hoard patents as they grow.


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