Paetec, Sprint Make Peace

May 20th, 2009 by · Leave a Comment

According to an SEC filing by PAETEC (news, filings), the company has settled with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S, news, filings) over the latter’s patent infringement claims.  Patents again, ugh.  In this case, Sprint filed the lawsuit in January of 2008 along with similar claims against NuVox, Broadvox, and Big River.  This came just after making Vonage cry uncle and pay some $80M over the same 6 patents. 

The terms are confidential, but one would think if it were on the order of the Vonage suit then it would show up pretty quickly on the balance sheet.  Perhaps instead this lawsuit became a casualty of Sprint’s cost savings efforts – lawyers are expensive after all.  So why not settle it for a bit of licensing revenue?  As far as I know, the Nuvox, Broadvox, and Big River lawsuits are still pending, but perhaps they will follow this one before long.

Whatever the result, I still wonder just how long we will keep pretending that this is normal.  There are thousands of patents on a given modern technology (VoIP, CDN, whatever).  We have no idea which are valid and which ones are not until they are tested in court.  There is no viable means to determine beforehand who you owe what and why, none at all.  Tell me now what the dozen or so seminal patents are for cloud computing and who owns them?  You say we don’t know yet?  That doesn’t matter, if you don’t pay them you may be infringing and will be held liable for damaging that which was at the time unidentifiable by anyone as damageable.  Under what rules is this sane?

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Categories: VoIP

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