A number of people in the telecom industry tell me they have looked at the Verizon patents being used against Vonage and they say they have been doing the things that are claimed in the patents before Verizon filed. My sources further claim in some cases there are patents which have been granted to companies which conflict with the patents which Verizon has. Of course this is not unusual but no one has anything to gain from suing Verizon to get the phone company’s patents overturned. They would only do this if they are sued and this won’t happen as Verizon is too smart to sue companies that can overturn their own patents. So they will likely just sue companies with few or no patents.
Boy does patent reform look like a better and better idea by the moment. Take a look at Tom Keating’s post on the matter which shows the ideas in at least one Verizon patent go back to 1995!
The more we look at the patent system in this country the more we see it can be improved. I still think the US is the most innovative country in the world and we have an entrepreneurial culture that has no equal.
By the same token we need a patent system that encourages creativity and protects inventors. At the same time we have to be cognizant of patent hoarders who use the system as a weapon to thwart competition.
Stifling VoIP because the patent system is not keeping up with technology hurts consumers around the world and could potentially reduce innovation in myriad other industries. It would be a terrible shame if negative impact were to befall the VoIP industry because patents were granted to Verizon on technologies invented by others.
There should be an inexpensive way for patents to get reexamined by the USPTO to ensure they should have been granted in the first place.