A. Bell: Phone Inventor Patent Pilferer?

While Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) continues to sort through its VOIP-related patent messes (OK, so it just mopped up one with Nortel Networks Ltd. ), there's news of a battle that brewed over the original telephone but never quite made it to patent spat status.

Maybe you've seen reports about a new book that claims to have uncovered evidence showing that none other than Alexander Graham Bell nicked some pretty important details from Elisha Gray, a rival inventor.

In an AP report about the book -- The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret, due out January 7 -- a lab notebook of Bell's may serve as the "smoking gun":

The notebook details the false starts Bell encountered as he and assistant Thomas Watson tried transmitting sound electromagnetically over a wire. Then, after a 12-day gap in 1876 – when Bell went to Washington to sort out patent questions about his work – he suddenly began trying another kind of voice transmitter. That method was the one that proved successful.

I guess filing patent suit back then wasn't quite the revenue driving opportunity that it is today. Then again, it was more difficult to get a lawyer on the horn when there was just one working voice line in existence.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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