Finally, Verizon (VZ) lost a VoIP patent case yesterday. Cox, accused of infringing on 6 patents, took the ILEC all the way through a jury trial and won on all counts. Well, it is Cox and not Vonage (VG) this time or someone even smaller, so this isn’t quite a giant killing story, yet it is satisfying anyway.
After all, Cox may not have been the most aggressive in rolling out VoIP but it has been part of the vanguard nonetheless. By contrast, Verizon has always been an impediment, using its intellectual property and its gaggle of lawyers to slow down a technology it doesn’t really like, thus impeding everyone else. They did introduce the VoiceWing service but it was a token effort that never got much backing.
But I doubt this is over just yet, Verizon has many other potential targets and they can probably keep Cox in court for years on appeal. I’d have more sympathy if they were protecting a product they weren’t trying to kill for most of the last 4 years. The patent system really needs an overhaul whether, when it comes to software it is having the opposite effect to that intended. Rather than providing protection for invention and innovation as it once did, the system mostly just offers job protection for lawyers and a bludgeon for incumbents.
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