Vonage vs. Verizon: Recap, and What’s Next

Despite the circlings of bad-news vultures and grave dancers, upstart Voice over IP provider Vonage isn’t knocked out yet, despite several legal bloodyings in its patent fight with telco giant Verizon.

Where we are at now: Vonage can continue with business as usual, thanks to a temporary stay granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The next big day on the legal calendar for Vonage is April 24, with oral arguments at the appeals court where the judge will decide whether or not the stay should be permanent, or whether the (lower) District Court’s injunction to keep Vonage from signing up new customers would stand. Either way, Vonage will be moving to appeal the original ruling that found it in violation of three Verizon patents. But the stay is the big item right now.

What happened recently: For starters, Vonage gave its CEO the heave-ho, and is waiting to report its quarterly numbers until the patent mess comes to some kind of resolution.

Why is there a patent mess? In part, because the VoIP industry wasn’t paying attention.

What might happen next? Could a successful Verizon start taking on other VoIP providers, especially the cablecos, whose numbers of VoIP customers already have passed Vonage’s? Some say it might happen, though some of our sources say providers like Comcast have their own rich patent portfolio (think video over phone lines) to trump any legal poker-playing by Verizon.

Our ongoing coverage of Vonage and Verizon can be found here.