Patent lawsuits have long been used as a competitive weapon in many industries. Telecom is now getting their fair share. Vonage suffered a series of patent lawsuits from competitors last year, and now Verizon is suing Cox Communications on similar grounds. Four of the same patents, which focus on technology used to complete IP calls, used as a suit basis against Vonage are also the focus of the Verizon suit against Cox. Verizon filed suit in the Eastern District Court of Virginia on January 11 alleging that Cox infringed on a total of eight patents.
Light Reading speculates that this patent suit may be a sign of things to come, as most cable companies using VoIP, use the same technology that Verizon names in the Cox patent suit. Verizon may be teeing up the suit with Cox to see if it has legs. Should it prove successful, we can probably expect to see a parade of lawsuits between Verizon (and other telecom carriers) and leading cable companies over VoIP technology. It’s doubtful this (and potentially future suits) will materially impact cable’s ability to compete with telecom carriers. But every patent lawsuit action is not designed to stop a competitor cold – just slow them down a little and make life in the competitive telecom landscape a little more complicated.