I just picked up this patent, granted May 2004, in a database search. I, naturally, was looking for something else. It was assigned to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) in San Jose and it describes a way of helping carriers interconnect their Private Branch eXchange (PBX) equipment with other operators and networking gear, while "avoiding expensive and time consuming switch development to support new protocols."
Here's a bit more, from the abstract:
A scalable, programmable software based application run on a programmed general purpose digital computer is used for interconnecting a plurality of heterogeneous network nodes. The application has the ability to convert between any two signaling protocols used, such as those used over a telecommunications network, by converting an originating protocol to a universal non-protocol specific representation, and then converting the universal non-protocol specific representation to a receiving protocol.
— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading