Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Verizon has lost an infringement lawsuit against Cox

Below is a news item that Verizon has lost an infringement lawsuit against Cox, with a jury ruling that there was no infringement. The lawsuit was the classic "troll" tactic - sue a little guy (Cox) before going after the big companies. Now one reason trolls are so labeled (I prefer patent yakuzas to troll) is that they are falsely criticized for not practising the technology in the patent. But assuming that is a legitimate criticism, what do you call it when the patent tr-ll denies the technology .... TO ITS CUSTOMERS? From the article: "Verizon has been aggressively asserting its patents in Internet phone technology, despite not promoting the service to its own customers." Sounds like a tyrant to me - and thus making Verizon a tyrant troll. If one is going to engage in silly labeling of problems in the patent world. Verizon Loses Patent Lawsuit Against Cox By AMOL SHARMA Verizon Communications Inc. lost its patent-infringement case against Cox Communications Inc., signaling that Verizon may have a difficult time extracting royalties from cable providers for Internet-based telephony. A federal jury in the Eastern District of Virginia found that Cox didn't infringe on six Verizon patents related to Internet telephony. Cox, which has more than three million residential and business phone customers, said in a statement it would "look forward to competing vigorously with Verizon in the marketplace, not the courtroom." Verizon has been aggressively asserting its patents in Internet phone technology, despite not promoting the service to its own customers. Many analysts and patent lawyers said its case against Atlanta-based Cox, which was filed early this year, was a prelude to further lawsuits against bigger cable rivals. Verizon was seeking past damages from Cox of $404 million. "Despite the decision, we believe our patents were infringed," Verizon said in a statement. "We will continue to innovate and protect our intellectual property." The New York company said it hasn't decided whether to appeal the decision. Cox argued that it wasn't liable because it doesn't actually offer Internet phone service. While its call traffic is broken into digital voice "packets," it isn't routed over the public Internet, the company said. Cox said it controls the calls through its own cable network. A Verizon spokesman declined to say whether the company would target other major cable providers like Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. with patent lawsuits. Verizon recently reached a deal with Comcast Corp. in which both companies agreed not to sue each other for patent infringement for a period of five years. That agreement covers all patents the companies hold. Write to Amol Sharma at Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved