16 years ago
It seems like Darth Vader's troops are winning...
The Verizon lawsuit is about the gateway which converts circuit switched calls to packet switched (VoIP) and viceversa. I use that technology at work on a daily basis, with Cisco devices. If I purchase one of those boxes from Cisco (like Vonage did), it means that Verizon can sue me!? Why don't they sue Cisco instead?
Because the intent is to try and kill the VoIP providers, not the equipment manufacturers.
Verizon is losing business at an alarming rate and they know it. So look forward to more desparate grasps.
If Vonage just bought turnkey solution from Cisco and didn't develop the 3 technologies in question, then shouldn't Vonage now sue Cisco for having sold it "damaged" goods and hold Cisco responsible for the cost of the Verizon lawsuit ?
When you buy a product from a reputable vendor, shouldn't you rightly assume that you are given full rights to use said products and that if there are any patent infringements, it will be between your vendor and the claimant, and you won't be involved ?
If Vonage actually developped some of the software in question, then it was the right target for the lawsuit. But if this is just stuff Vonage bought from another vendor such as Cisco, I find it strange that a court would have eben allowed this lawsuit.
Who gets sued for patent infringement depends on the nature of the claims of a patent (sometimes they are written so that only an end user or a systems integrator are the actual infringers) and who ticks off the patent owner. There is no requirement that a patent owner sue every infringer, but a pattern of not suing infringers that leads a person to believe that they won't be sued could rise to the level of a defense called "laches."
Even if you buy something from a reputable vendor, you are never given full rights to use the product, because that vendor may not have all the rights. Some may be held by patent owners unknown to the vendor.
What you do get is what the sales contract provides, which is often that the vendor will pay any damages from your infringement, or will refund your money, or will make the product noninfringing, or some combination of those. But you generally have to notify them of any infringement suit and allow them to handle it.
In the absense of any agreement, here's what the Uniform Commercial Code provides as a default: Unless otherwise agreed a seller who is a merchant regularly dealing in goods of the kind warrants that the goods shall be delivered free of the rightful claim of any third person by way of infringement or the like but a buyer who furnishes specifications to the seller must hold the seller harmless against any such claim which arises out of compliance with the specifications.
But that's between the vendor and the user. It doesn't keep the patent owner from suing anybody who infringes the patent, as Vonage did.
Large companies typically have blanket patent cross license agreements. Considering the size of Cisco's patent arsenal, I'd expect them to have made an agreement with VZ or one of its predecessors long ago.
Regards, John Levine, firstname.lastname@example.org, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies", Information Superhighwayman wanna-be,Mayor "More Wiener schnitzel, please", said Tom, revealingly.
It's also quite likely that Cisco supplies quite a bit of the hardware in Verizon's infrastructure. Would you want to hurt one of your major suppliers (well, I suppose you might do this and then try to acquire them).
There's that, but this was a calculated move by Verizon to try and kill Voice over Internet Protocol. It wasn't as successful as they hoped it woudl be.
Personally I'd be happy to see Verizon and at&t tank at any given moment.
But wouldn't Vonage have brought this up in its defence to show the hypocrisy of this lawsuit ?
The only logical validity of this is if Vonage had developped its own software instead of purchasing a turn-key solution from Cisco or other vendor.
OR: Cisco's agreement with Verizon would have allowed Cisco to sell its VoIP systems to private users (such as corporations implementing their own internal VoIP networks), but Vonage took that equipment and deployed it to provide public services, at which point, some agreement between Verizon and Cisco would no longer have applied. (this is just speculation on my part).
In such a speculative case, the question becomes whether Vonage would have deployed the Cisco equipment with a warning/knowledge that it wasn't really legal to deploy it as a public network.
In the end though, even if it is just speculation that Cisco gear was involved, it hurts Cisco's image. Do you really want to buy any Cisco gear if you risk being sued by some legacy Telco that is starving for revenus ?
Cisco makes a lot of switch gear for Verizon, the patents belong to Verizon. This action is very much like the law suits involving the makers of the Blackberry.
The methods to talk over the net are open source, but the way that they link to the switched network is owned by Verizon; actually much earlier then Verizon; GTE Systems had the patents.
I believe that Verizon has tried to settle this and just could not.
No district court judge not wanting to be reversed on appeal would consider for a moment letting Vonage bring that up in court. It's not a defense to patent infringement, which are listed in 35 U.S.C. 282. Whether another is also infringing the patent has no bearing on whether Vonage did. And depending on the claims of the patent and what Cisco supplies, Cisco may not even be an infringer.
Keep in mind that supplying equipment that can be used to infringe a patent is not infringement if that equipment has another substantial noninfringing use. 35 U.S.C. 271(c).
Again, there is no requirement at a patent owner sue every infringer to go after any infringer.
No but providing a piece of software that even remotely facilitates file sharing can be thought to violate copyright law. It's a really screwed up world we live in.
Oh sure they did. I bet they asked for about 90% royalties.
I believe it was 5% which is pretty much standard.
Not at all, at least in the United States. Copyright law, after the Supreme Court's Grokster decision, tracks patent law. If you supply something that has a substantial noninfringing use, you will not be liable for contributory infringement. But if you actively promote infringement, you will be liable for inducement of infringement.
And just because one if liable under some theory doesn't mean that the patent or copyright owner has to sue the person. But just because the patent or copyright owner doesn't sue everybody doesn't mean that the competitor that bothers the patent or copyright owner the most won't get sued.
Here's an interesting point - A small service provider that I deal with carry all of Verizons traffic in the Western Pacific. They carry the voice using VoIP with Cisco equpiment...
Maybe Verizon could sue them so that they loose their service in the Pacific ;-)
That was what the courts gave them. I was just making a point about why Vonage might not have settled with Verizon out of court.
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