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More Questions Surrounding Verizon VoIP Patents
Jeff Pulver notes prior art with his work on FWD
by Karl Bode 12:54PM Tuesday Apr 24 2007
Last week it was pointed out that work done by the VoIP Forum predated Verizon's patents, which are at the foundation of Verizon's thus far successful case against Vonage. Then came the discovery that 3Com filed for patents covering the same technology before Verizon. Now Techdirt points to claims from VoIP guru Jeff Pulver that the work he did on Free World Dialup (FWD) also predates Verizon's patents:
"I could have applied for a patent on the name translation function in October 1995, but I viewed the not inconsequential cost of the FWD project as a contribution to the public domain. I even published a book 'The Internet Telephone Toolkit' with a detailed description of FWD written in January 1996, two months before Eric Voit filed the patent application for Verizon. Nothing in the description section of Verizon's patent would surprise members of the IPhone email discussion list I managed, yet the prior art disclosure does not reference FWD or the IPhone mailing list."
Of course, as Techdirt notes, this prior art doesn't get Vonage off the hook, but it does illustrate the general dysfunction of the patent office and the legal system.

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SD6

join:2005-03-26

two comments

1) "general dysfunction" of the patent office - It's a bit unreasonable to expect the Patent Office to know every mailing list that exists in the world. If they knew about it and allowed the patent, then that's one thing. But that's not what happened here. If you are that concerned, send the prior art to the Patent Office so they can do their job effectively.

2) In the end, the patents are just one battle in a war. Verizon wants Vonage off their network, the only questions are how and how long will it take. If nothing else, in 10 years Verizon will simply prohibit Vonage on FIOS.

nixen
Rockin' the Boxen
Premium
join:2002-10-04
Alexandria, VA

1 edit

Re: two comments

said by SD6:

1) "general dysfunction" of the patent office - It's a bit unreasonable to expect the Patent Office to know every mailing list that exists in the world. If they knew about it and allowed the patent, then that's one thing. But that's not what happened here. If you are that concerned, send the prior art to the Patent Office so they can do their job effectively.
The whole point of the existence of the USPTO and the patent clerks is that they actually research a technology before granting a patent. So, yes, it is reasonable that they be expected to find any relevant mailing lists that exist and check to see if archived data demonstrates "prior art".

said by SD6:

2) In the end, the patents are just one battle in a war. Verizon wants Vonage off their network, the only questions are how and how long will it take.
The same could be said of Verizon regarding any successful content or service provider who gets to "Verizon's" customers over "Verizon's" lines. Does this mean we should expect that Verizon will attempt to sue Google and every other content or service provider out of existence?

said by SD6:

If nothing else, in 10 years Verizon will simply prohibit Vonage on FIOS.
See previous point. Sounds like a perfect argument for the Net Neutrality advocates.
--
Everyday, thousands of new cars are delivered to their new owners with poorly-selected radio station presets.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Also note that Dialpad was founded before those patents

They had an interface from internet to POTS before the Verizon patents as well. For whatever reason, judges tend to look at prior art very narrowly in these cases.

Intl VoIP

@sbcglobal.net

VoIP Patents

If Verizon had disclosed the prior art their application would have been rejected just like ours was. We did apply for patents in December of 1995 and the initial applications were rejected for being to broad based on the available prior art we chose to disclose. We narrowed the applications and received two patents. I can only hope some judge gets his or her head out of their a$$ and overturns this, otherwise Verizon will kill off all VoIP services.
stufried
Premium
join:2003-10-13

Re: VoIP Patents

Didn't D-Base get into trouble for not disclosing prior art and still have its patent upheld despite this?
PDXPLT

join:2003-12-04
Banks, OR

Re: VoIP Patents

Verizon is under no obligation to disclose prior art that those writing the patent application didn't know about. How could they? Do you have evidence that the application wirters had personal knowledge about this supposed prior art?

Most companies advise their inventors not to do prior art searches, just to avoid this potential liability.

Intl VoIP

@sbcglobal.net

Re: VoIP Patents

As a matter of fact I do have proof, the business cards we ALL exchanged during several product review meetings, and the notes from those meeting that were shared between the participants.

phattieg

join:2001-04-29
Winter Park, FL

What did I say about Jeff Pulver???

I told you ol' Jeff Pulver was going to start getting involved. I hope to GOD they screw with another company and get Jeff involved. He will be on point with the case. He knows VoIP inside and out.
--
SIPPhone/Gizmo # 17476200648 / PIMPNET Chatline / Ran by Asterisk & Slackware 10.1.
mr weather
Premium
join:2002-02-27
Mississauga, ON

Inequitable conduct

You could always argue inequitable conduct on Verizon in its dealings with the USPTO for not disclosing the relevant prior art to the examiner during the prosecution of its patents.

If this "VoIP Forum" was as prolific as they say there is no reason for Verizon not to be aware of it.
--
"It's all coming down!!" - Mike Holmes

Intl VoIP

@sbcglobal.net

Re: Inequitable conduct

Verizon knew about the forum and those developing VoIP solutions, they just worked the system that examiners expect complete and accurate patent applications.

I sat in on several meetings with HW & SW developers which AT&T, Ericsson, Nortel, and Verizon also attended. BTW these meeting all took place in 1995.

Verizon tried and so far has made an end run on VoIP technology, the question is if ANY judge has the ba11s to call them on it.

anybody

@mhcable.com

Re: Inequitable conduct

If you look at the minutes of these meeting you will find Verizon was not a member. The rbocs were not represented either.. BTW Verizon came into existance in 2000.

james1

join:2001-02-26

Re: Inequitable conduct

It's obvious that they used the wayback machine to time travel back in time to attend those meetings. Anyone who says otherwise is a Communist!

Intl VoIP

@sbcglobal.net
The meetings I am referring to were stand alone product development meetings.
Those products were based on input from the rbocs and three telecom equipment suppliers.
Alcatel, Ericsson, and Lucent / ATT, Ericsson released the first product which was first deployed in the Latin America region in January of 1996 and are still in operation today.
The code running in those products came from the 1995 VoIP forums and was reviewed the rbocs including Bell Atlantic and GTE, now know as Verizon! Their engineering team had complete access to the documentation, source code and production product PRIOR to the patent applications.
For the record, I was the SVP of Engineering at the time for the company that deployed this HW and SW in January of 1996, and have said rboc engineer's business cards that participated in those meetings.
radam

join:2004-02-13
Fairfax Station, VA

Why now?

So after tens of milliions of dollars spent on litigation we just learn about these issues???

TScheisskopf
World News Trust

join:2005-02-13
Belvidere, NJ

As I recall...

Dale Luck, of Amiga fame and non-fortune, was working on VOIP stuff(and getting good results) back in this time frame as well, early/mid 90's or so. He was talking about it at one of Dave Haynie's Hayniefests I attended.

So once again, this all is stinking to high heaven.