Vonage Owes $58 M in Patent Case

In a ruling that could have wide-ranging consequeces for the entire competitive voice replacement market, a federal jury Thursday found Vonage guilty of infringing several patents held by Verizon, and awarded $58 million in past damages and imposed a 5.5 percent royalty fee on future Vonage operations.

According to analysis of the case by the telecom experts at Stifel, Nicolaus, the judge in the case may also impose an injunction stopping Vonage from selling services that infringe on the patents involved; the judge is scheduled to determine any injunctions in two weeks.

Verizon had sought $197 million in past damages in the lawsuit, which had claimed that Vonage violated five different patents related to Vonage’s Voice over IP services. The three patents that the jury found Vonage infringed included the patent that covers the VoIP interactivity with the PSTN, as well as ones covering calling features like call forwarding and mobility. According to Stifel, Nicolaus’ report, “The jury rejected Vonage’s defense that Verizon’s patents were not valid. It did not find that Vonage’s infringement was willful, which eliminates the risk of the judge imposing treble damages.”

More as we learn more; calls and emails to Vonage have not yet been returned. While Vonage had some fightin’ words for Verizon a week or so ago, let’s see if the company changes its tune now that the jury has had its say. UPDATED: Here’s a link to a Vonage press release about the verdict. In it, Vonage says it plans to appeal and that users’ service won’t be disrupted:

In addition, we don’t believe there is any basis to support Verizon’s request for an injunction and we will have the opportunity to present our position to the trial court shortly. If the trial court does impose an injunction, we will seek an immediate stay from the Federal Court of Appeals. Vonage’s customers should see no change to any aspect of their phone service.