April 15, 2007

Verizon's VoIP Patent Litigation

This column describes the patent pain exemplified by the recent decision for Verizon and against Vonage in the recent litigation where Verizon sued Vonage for patent infringement. Here is just one of hundreds of cases where companies are defending their business against those who would take some of it using technologies different than those of the incumbent.

The U.S. patent situation is enormously complex and costly, particularly when creating patentable IP, or legally defending them when infringed by others, or administered if they are to licensed.

Some would argue that today's U.S. patent system is broken, inefficient and unable to keep pace with galloping technology. Many game the patent system and others (think Asia) choose to ignore it. Some on the cutting edge of technology may not even bother to file for patents because the technology is moving so fast they believe the patent will be useless because it will be overtaken by new ideas and discoveries.

Nevertheless, the patent system is what it is and small technology R&D companies must play in this sandbox effectively or risk an infringement lawsuit that may devastate their business because of the cost to defend it. Also, they must decie how to invest limited resources to apply for patents in order to protect their ideas and technology or risk losing a potentially lucrative revenue stream from licensing.
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