Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Vonage and Verizon

I hope this is just one of the regular spats that companies have about patents:

Verizon and Vonage on Wednesday will present opening statements in a patent-infringement case that could have a big impact on consumers and the nascent Internet telephone industry.

Most immediately at risk is the future of Vonage (VG).

Vonage, one of the best-known brands in the Internet phone world, acknowledged last week that it doesn't have a plan for getting around use of technology that Verizon (VZ) claims violates patents it owns.

The upshot: If Verizon prevails in court, Vonage could be forced to shut down, at least temporarily, while it redesigns its service. That could cause a lot of heartburn for Vonage's 2 million customers.

Brooke Schulz, a Vonage spokeswoman, said Monday that Verizon's claims are baseless. "This is about Verizon trying to stifle competition," she said. "We have not infringed on their patents, period."

As for the prospect of Vonage shutting down, Schulz says, customers shouldn't worry. "We're working on a redesign plan."

Internet telephony, also known as VoIP, for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a Web-based phone service that closely mimics traditional phone service but sends calls over the Internet. VoIP costs only about $20 a month — though it requires an existing high-speed Internet connection — compared with $40 to $60 a month for regular phone service.

By the end of 2006, there were 8.6 million VoIP users in the USA, estimates JupiterResearch. By 2010, the number is expected to reach 22.5 million. Many of those customers are coming from traditional local phone providers such as Verizon and AT&T.

Verizon sued Vonage in June, claiming broad patent violation. An amended complaint in January alleged that Vonage "has appropriated the results of years of research conducted by Verizon and its predecessors.

If verizon actually has a case then there's an awful lot of us who are going to get screwed: including me.


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Monday, February 05, 2007

Only Famous Peckers

Have the right to claim a domain based upon their name:

Only famous people who trade on their name have any chance of winning control of internet addresses containing their name, according to a decision by the World Intellectual Property Center (WIPO).

Publishing executive David Pecker lost the right to gain control of in a case judged by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center. It found that Pecker failed to demonstrate that he had rights to the name other than "broad assertions".


In order to gain control of a domain a person or company has to prove three things. They have to show that the domain is the same or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the person has rights; that the other party has no legitimate interests or rights in the domain, and that it was registered or is being used 'in bad faith'.

In order to gain control of a domain you must fulfil all three conditions, so if the Panel finds one step which you fail it rarely considers the other two.

The Panel found that Pecker could not show that he had a trade mark or service mark right in the name David Pecker, so could not gain control of the domain. Other Panels had found in the cases of famous people that being famous, and therefore trading under your name, did sometimes qualify for that step.

So if you're not famous and your name is dick, prong or woodie, then, sorry, but you're simply out of luck.


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