> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: It seems to me that a lot of these
> 'patent pirates' like Verizon, etc are going to pick over the entire
> internet -- the hard work of _many_ netters over the years -- and
> where they find some little unobtrusive thing which the earlier
> builders had not bothered to patent way-back-when -- because the
> internet was intended to be open architecture -- open to all -- now,
> Verizon and who else is going to rush in trying to grab it up and
> claim 'they were first'.
Which is exactly the same as what individuals are doing today.
Sometimes they luck out; are paid money to go away.
However, I believe if something is discovered and expressly released
into the public domain it cannot be patented (though I'm not sure on
And is exactly the same as electronic technology 50-60 years ago.
Back in 1957 IBM research discovered something they thought was
perfectly obvious but to their surprise was never patented. So they
filed and got a patent for it. On the flip side, a dubious patent
claim forced IBM to pay out millions of dollars in royalties.
In addition, IBM patented its new semiconductor products, but
initially never thought to patent its newly developed machinery and
processes to make those products. That manufacturing technology
turned out to be quite valuable to other businesses.
In the Verizon case, no one has presented any suggestion that Verizon
had not researched the patented articles on its own.
As to criticisms of the jury's work, presumably Vonnage had very well
paid attorneys working for it who understood the technology. Frankly,
I had no idea of what Mr. Goldstein was talking about. If that was
Vonnage's defense, yes they were sure to fail. A good lawyer can
explain technical things to a jury in layman's terms and the judge can
explain patent law, such as what is and what is not patentable.
Let's remember that the jury's job is a "finder of fact". In essence,
we have "he said/she said". The jury determines who to believe within
the scope of the law explained by the judge.
For example, Mr. Goldstein said:
> the first and second destination address includes a numeric Internet
> Protocol address; and the second destination address further
> includes information relating to call routing via a public switched
> telephone network.
> No, sirree, that doesn't look at all like DNS or MX records or
> anything else invented before 1997!
What is DNS and MX and what does it have to do with the preceding
statement? Given all these "addresses" floating around, what exactly
does one do with them? What is Verizon claiming? What is Vonage
claiming in response?
I am not an expert on patent law, but I understand that an improvement
to an existing technology is patentable, indeed, a great many patents
represent just that -- an improvement to an existing condition.
Per Mr. Goldstein's argument, if he's arguing that some technology
already existing, I don't think that matters. It appears that Verizon
claimed it made improvements to that technology. Or, perhaps Verizon
invented some basic components of VOIP communication.
Mr. Goldstein concludes by saying:
> In other words, Verizon is abusing the patent system in order to
> stamp out competition. What else is new? Liars are liars.
Frankly, that statement shows a prejudiced hostility toward Verizon.
Verizon's a "liar"? The court didn't say that at all. Verizon is
"abusive"? The court didn't say that either.
I am curious if any reputable trade journals reported on this court
action with the same passion of Mr. Goldstein and shared his opinion.
Another thing that troubled me was that Vonage sought to get off by
claiming it was in the "public interest". In other words, if I run a
red light and smash up a Verizon truck, I shouldn't be liable for
damages because I'm just a little guy and Verizon is this big company?
It's in the public interest to let me slide?
No. We have a marketplace now. Ma Bell is long gone. (I write this
as my neighborhood is being dug up to put in new cable TV lines,
which, interestingly enough, offer telephone service and high speed
data flow). If some new company, like Vonage, wants a piece of the
action, it has to do its own R&D or license patents from other people.
Lots of small companies did just that. The companies that initially
invented ICs were rather small compared to huge RCA and GE yet beat
them out. Did Vonage make itself 911 compatible yet? Apple Computer
started out of a garage when IBM and others were huge, and built quite
a nice empire of its own. It can be done by hard work and creativity.
No one in this discussion offered any defense of Vonage's own R&D
efforts, assuming they even have any. What several people posted
instead was anti-Verizon feeling. Not liking Verizon is not the
issue. If Vonage is so damn superior the marketplace will follow.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: No, Vonage is not yet '911 compatible'
except maybe over east somewhere (around Maine or Rhode Island or
somewhere there where the _outside plant_ is municipally owned.) Why
are they not 911 compatible? Well, because telcos have made it all but
impossible for them is why! Making a disparaging comment about Vonage
not being 911 compatible almost makes as much sense as complaining
about GLBT people being promiscuous 'because we do not get married and
settle down'. We are unable to get married under the laws, because of
the strangle-hold on the laws in most places. Ditto, Vonage and other
VOIP carriers have a _huge_ economic barrier in front of them on 911
service. Telcos will _not_ cooperate with the database. Telco is the
law! Telco only changes its ways when the Supreme Court requires it,
and that goes all the way back beyond Carterphone to Kingsbury.
Recall that after Carterphone, telco research and development
flourished. And R&D is where things are at, even if much of the early
internet R&D was through a number of good-hearted, benevolent
anarchists who put all their work out like a free-smorgasbord lunch
for the 'public good'.
And those of us who even feebly objected to this were told -- if we
were told at all rather than just ignored -- that no one wanted to
bother with Administrivia, that Administrivia was sinful. The Gospel
of the Public Good had to come first. But there has to be some sort of
compromise. Telcos seem unwilling to allow any compromise. So, out of
pure self-defense we cannot allow any compromise either, it would