VoIP patent mess to get messier

The telecom death match between Vonage (VG) and Verizon (VZ) is being played on in a small arena enclosed by a mesh wire of patents. And things could get quite bloody in months to come. Ed Pennington, head of patent practice for Bingham McCutchen, a Washington DC law firm told Telephony that a whole bunch of patent trolls could be waiting to pounce as a result of the Verizon-Vonage decision.

Verizon recently won the $58 million lawsuit, giving hopes to all patent holders, each looking to some get their piece of the action. Verizon, which has won its patent infringement case against Vonage could be emboldened by its win, and go after other players including cable companies and other small VoIP providers. Business Week estimates that there are about 2,000 VoIP-related patents have been issued to a diverse group of companies.

Some of the companies with big patent portfolios include Sprint, Net2Phone and a little known company called Web Technology. Incidentally, Web Technology last week filed a law suit against Verizon, Vonage, AT&T, Earthlink and SunRocket. Tech giants Cisco, Motorola, and Broadcom also have their own patents related to VoIP.

“You will see more companies exiting the business,” David McClure, president and CEO of the US Internet Industry Association recently told Business Week. Now that’s a novel way of precipitating a shakeout!

Previously on GigaOM

  • 3/26/2007: Vonage ready to rumble
  • 3/23/2007: Vonage has 2 weeks to stop using Verizon patents, says Judge
  • 3/16/2007: Vonage – rocky road, not road kill
  • 3/8/2007: Vonage owes $58 million in patent case
  • 2/15/2007: Vonage growth slows in Q4
  • 1/22/2007: Vonage’s tough road ahead.