Workarounds For Vonage After Patent Loss

Will Internet phone company Vonage be able to continue operating in the face of the $58 million patent infringement verdict in its case with Verizon? The answer could hang on whether Vonage can produce a non-infringing workaround able to keep subscribers talking while satisfying Verizon and the court.

Industry sources familiar with the situation said Vonage will outline later this month in U.S. District Court “a couple viable options” for continuing service. Those options include a software patch from Vonage, learned.

Vonage said it would appeal any injunction. U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia Judge Claude Hilton has set March 23 for arguments on the matter.

The three Verizon patents that an Alexandria federal jury found Vonage infringed could be grouped into two VoIP technologies: Wi-Fi and name translation, according to spokeswoman Brooke Schulz.

Schulz said the Wi-Fi patents cover wireless VoIP-enabled devices, including both Vonage’s and Skype. Another disputed technology governs how Internet calls travel across traditional telephone networks. Vonage argues it does not use Verizon’s name translation technique to transmit Internet calls.

Because the judge broadly construed Verizon’s patent claims, any work- around will be difficult for Vonage, according to a report by telecom analyst firm Stifel Nicolaus.

Vonage appears undeterred.

“We remain confident in our ability to continue to service our customers, regardless of the final outcome of this case,” Schulz said.

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