Vonage’s Growing Legal Swirl

Vonage’s legal woes continued to mount today, even as the Voice over IP provider made its own moves to extricate itself from various patent infringement claims.

While Vonage  announced it had acquired ownership of three VoIP patents from Digital Packet Licensing, Klausner Technologies sued the company for patent infringement.

The lawsuit, which seeks $180 million in damages, claims Vonage’s voicemail platform infringes Klausner’s technology. Founded by Judah Klausner, one of the original inventors of the PDA and the electronic organizer, Klausner Technologies controls a number of patents involving VoIP-related voicemail services.

“We approached Vonage in January and offered them the opportunity to enter into a licensing agreement that could’ve allowed them to continue providing their VoIP voicemail, a key feature of their Internet phone service,” Klausner said in a statement.

Klausner said his company has already granted a license under the same patents to Time Warner’s AOL  for its AOL voicemail and related services.

As for Vonage , Klausner said, “We … are unable to wait any longer for a response from Vonage.”

The Klausner lawsuit follows infringement lawsuits against the Holmdel, N.J.-based Vonage by Verizon and Sprint.

In addition, Vonage is facing a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders involving the company’s IPO.

As Kausner announced its lawsuit, Vonage said its newly acquired patents are directed to the compression of packetized digital signals commonly used in VoIP technology.

“Vonage has acquired important patents in the field of VoIP technology in order to bolster its defenses against infringement lawsuits, such as those recently filed by Verizon and Sprint,” Mitchell Slepian, a Vonage spokesman, said in an e-mail to internetnews.com.

Slepian added that the three new patents in Vonage’s portfolio “will enhance our legal defenses and help quell the filing of frivolous lawsuits and attempts by others to discredit our technology.”

Vonage also claims the acquisition of the three patents puts the company “in control” of the Verizon and Sprint infringement claims, noting Motorola, Time Warner and Qwest have already settled or taken a license from Digital Packet involving the patents.

“Vonage does not believe it is infringing on Verizon’s patents. Furthermore, we feel that we have meritorious defenses to all of claims being asserted against us in this litigation,” Slepian said.

“By acquiring the Digital Packets patents, Vonage has now gained additional resources to defend against infringement claims on its VoIP technology.”

Michael Tribolet, president of Vonage America, said in a statement, “We’re committed to developing, acquiring and protecting the root technologies that are at the heart of our business.”

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