Sprint Partially Settles VoIP Patent Dispute

Sprint Nextel  said it has settled a lawsuit against tglo.com and Theglobe.com, two of the three companies it claimed infringed its voice-over-IP (VoIP)  patents.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but tglo.com (formerly known as VoiceGlo) and Theglobe.com will license Sprint’s technology for its own services going forward.

“This settlement will not materially impact any ongoing or future operations of tglo.com or theglobe.com,” said Ed Cespedes, president of Theglobe.com and tglo.com treasurer.

Sprint viewed the agreement as a “validation of the strength of our voice-over-packet portfolio” and called the settlement a significant achievement for its patent portfolio, according to statements.

Sprint Nextel sued Theglobe.com, its subsidiary VoiceGlo and VoIP giant Vonage  for the the same patents in October 2005.

The phone carrier sought an order from a U.S. District Court in Kansas to stop the companies from using its patents, and asked for monetary damages.

The Vonage case is headed to court in August 2007, Sprint spokesperson Matt Sullivan told internetnews.com.

Vonage spokesperson Brooke Schulz said Vonage did not infringe on Sprints patents, calling them “unenforceable.”

In the very litigious world of Internet-based phone calling, Vonage also faces a patent infringement lawsuit from Verizon , a carrier seeking to market BroadWing, its own VoIP product.

“Carriers are looking at VoIP as both a threat and opportunity,” said Bill Hughes, an In-Stat analyst.

While IP calls could be a new revenue source for the companies, Internet calling could become a new form of competition for traditional phone services.

“Sprint seems willing to license its technology on reasonable terms (terms that tglo found reasonable anyway), which may mean that Vonage and others will find licensing a cheaper, easier, better route than fighting it out in court,” said Joe Laszlo, a JupiterKagan analyst.

However, if Vonage believes it is in their interest to dispute Sprint’s claims, the VoIP company will go to court, “regardless of the terms Sprint offers,” Laszlo said.

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