Is it just me or does it seem like the patent infringement lawsuits are on the tipping point of getting out of control. Sprint is the latest to join the lawsuit parade, filing VoIP patent lawsuits against NuVox Communications, Broadvox Holdings, Big River Telephone Company, and Paetec Communications. They join Verizon who recently sued Cox for VoIP patent infringement. Sprint is suing these latest companies on the same basis as their successful suit against Vonage, which led to an $80 million dollar licensing agreement between the two. All indicators lead to even more suits between large carriers like Verizon and Sprint targeting not only upstarts like NuVox, but also large MSOs like Cox.
Analysts are beginning to wonder whether companies like Sprint see patent suits as a new top line revenue item. These scenarios may lend credence to the argument for patent reform. Should companies view patent infringement lawsuits as a way to earn revenue, or should they be reserved for protecting innovation and business processes? Maybe a little of both is warranted. I for one hope this industry can get past all the patent lawsuits and let the competitive landscape determine the winners and losers. I suspect many more are waiting in the wings. Let’s just get them all on the table so we can move on. The sooner the better.