& cplSiteName &

Verizon Sues Charter Over VOIP Patents

Raymond McConville
LR Cable News Analysis
Raymond McConville
2/8/2008
50%
50%

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has sued yet another service provider for patent infringement related to the intellectual property behind the transmission of VOIP calls. This time the victim is Charter Communications Inc. . The suit was filed Tuesday in a federal court in Texarkana, Texas.

Verizon has already successfully sued Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) for patent infringement and recently filed suit against Cox Communications Inc. (See Vonage Settles With Verizon and Verizon Sues Cox.) Just as in the Cox suit, Verizon is claiming that Charter infringed upon eight different patents -- four of which were tried in the Vonage case, with the court ruling in favor of Verizon on three of them.

Like the other cases, Verizon has asked for unspecified monetary damages and a court injunction blocking Charter from using the technology in the future. What's different in these latest two cases is the four new patents being brought to court. Some of the new patents deal with quality of service -- something Vonage isn't all that concerned with.

Additionally, in the Vonage case, Vonage was merely infringing upon the patents at hand; Cox and Charter are supposedly going so far as to invest money and develop networks based on the technology.

It's no secret that Verizon has steadily been losing wireline voice subscribers on a number of competitive fronts. It lost 8 percent of its primary access lines in 2007, much of that due to cable VOIP competition. This raises the question of whether Verizon plans to take more cable MSOs to court in order to thwart further line losses.

On the surface, it would appear that it is capable of doing this. All cable MSOs use the same basic PacketCable architecture for completing VOIP calls. If one is guilty of infringing Verizon's patents, it's conceivable that the others are as well.

"I would not be surprised if that's their strategy," said Fred Grasso, an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP's intellectual property practice and a VOIP patent expert. "An overarching theme is that it seems Verizon is picking patents that are essential to providing VOIP service."

Grasso says all eight patents in the Cox case deal with systems and methods. Methods patents detail steps that are performed in completing VOIP calls. "If this method requires steps that are performed by multiple companies then it's very difficult if not impossible to not have that claim infringed," says Grasso. It is the systems patents that cover an exact specific system that can more easily help you make claims against a specific entity like Cox.

Grasso says Verizon has brought both these generic methods-type claims and specific systems claims against Cox. Having already successfully tried four of the eight patents against Vonage, Grasso says that it could be testing the four new ones before maybe going after others later on.

Meanwhile, Charter says that they "are presently analyzing Verizon's claims and our defenses and can't comment on it at this time. Charter intends to vigorously defend itself in this suit."

The other cable MSOs are certainly aware of what Verizon is up to. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) for example, has acknowledged that it is aware of the suits but has not yet responded to requests for comment on its own potential vulnerability to a lawsuit.

The risk is there though. The Verizon patents in question are curiously vague. "They're not drafted to cover specific architecture," says Grasso. "There is a risk then that the larger providers are prone to this."

The district courts of Texas and Virginia (where the Cox suit is being tried) are known to work very quickly, so both of these cases could be over relatively quickly.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Web-Scale View

1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Heavy Reading's former chief analyst Patrick Donegan shared insight from the recent web-scale operators report, which featured research on how web-scale operators view the market, the best web-scale companies to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Cloud Scale Networking: Automation, Virtualization & Simplification

1|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


Cisco's Sanjeev Mervana outlines the latest innovations in networking technology at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
LRTV Custom TV
ADVA Talks Innovation & the Future of Networking

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Le Maistre and Christoph Glingener, CTO of ADVA Optical Networking, discuss the current state of the industry, cooperation and collaboration, open innovation and the future of networking.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Infinite Video Platform

1|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Cisco's Infinite Video Platform allows service providers to deliver broadcast-quality video over IP networks. Infinite video supports many devices, from 4K TVs to tablets to game consoles. Join Cisco's Rajeev Raman for a brief tour and live demo.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy: Ability to Adapt Key for NFV

1|16|17   |   6:40   |   (0) comments


Speaking at Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Masergy's VP, Global Technology, Ray Watson, said agility is key to providing the mix and match NFV-based services that are driving business for the managed service provider today.
LRTV Interviews
Equinix: The Data Explosion

1|13|17   |   4:16   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Eric Schwartz, president of EMEA, Equinix, talked about how Equinix is helping its customers manage the influx of data today, and how it's preparing for a future filled with millions of connected IoT devices.
LRTV Interviews
Heavy Reading: The Changing Data Center Landscape

1|12|17   |   6:05   |   (1) comment


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision event in Rome, Heavy Reading's Senior Analyst Roz Roseboro talks about how virtualization is impacting data center evolution and how that evolution is affecting the relationship between service providers, data center operators and public cloud providers.
LRTV Interviews
Boingo: Prepping for Millions of Devices

1|12|17   |   5:07   |   (1) comment


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision in Rome, Boingo's CTO Derek Peterson discusses how wireless operators will address the needs of low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth apps at the same time, the need for more MHz, the impact of IoT and more.
LRTV Interviews
Comcast Shows Off Gig Gateway at CES

1|11|17   |     |   (1) comment


With its largest presence at CES in years, Comcast took the wraps off its long-awaited gigabit gateway and a new platform for managing the home WiFi network. Light Reading Senior Editor Mari Silbey sat down with EVP Chris Satchell to discuss the latest Comcast advance, and met with VP of Product Strategy and Development Andrea Peiro to walk through a demo of the ...
LRTV Interviews
Colt: End-to-End Key for 2017

1|10|17   |   6:21   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Rome, Nico Fischbach of Colt said having a multi-carrier, end-to-end service proposition is going to be key for 2017 -- and SD-WAN is instrumental in making it happen.
From the Founder
Cisco's Clemson on Mobile Cloud Video

1|9|17   |     |   (1) comment


Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators. "If you think about where we're going… whether it's a mobile application, or a video ...
LRTV Custom TV
VMware Telco NFV Solutions – Preparing for 5G & IOT

1|9|17   |     |   (0) comments


Shekar Ayyar, EVP & Corporate Strategy/General Manager of Telco for VMware, discusses VMware's Telco NFV solutions role and foundation for the Imminent Arrival of 5G & IOT.
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
A Women in Comms Glossary
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 1/18/2017
Is Cable One Beefing Up for Slaughter?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 1/20/2017
Nokia CTO: 2017 Is the Year 5G Gets in the Field
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/19/2017
TV's Paradox: No HDR Without 4K
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 1/17/2017
Cable Has One Thing Verizon Needs
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 1/17/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.