Sprint Direct Dials Vonage Patent Attorneys

    October 5, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The newly merged Sprint Nextel has filed suit against Vonage, accusing it of infringing on seven patents.

Vonage, the largest VoIP provider in the US, and the VoIP startup Theglobe.com’s VoiceGlo unit, have been accused of infringing on seven patents held by Sprint. The Wall Street Journal reports the suit focuses on technology used to send phone calls over data networks.

At one time, Vonage and Sprint had held talks and rumors of a possible merger were discussed. But those discussions came to an end a few months ago, the Journal noted. Now, with its IPO pending, Vonage will have to deal with Sprint’s litigation to preserve its business model.

For its part, VoiceGlo claims the suit is without merit; Vonage has not seen the filing and did not have a comment yet. Sprint filed its suit in US District Court in Kansas, and claims its patents cover a “series of innovations” related to VoIP in a press release.

Sprint wants an injunction to stop Vonage and VoiceGlo from offering VoIP services, and unspecified monetary damages, calling the use of the technology “continued willful infringement” by the companies.

VoIP present a potentially chilling model to the existing cellular industry. Providers like Sprint and competitors Cingular, Verizon, and T-Mobile all price basic wireless phone service in the $30-$40 monthly range. Should a wireless network like the much-discussed GoogleNet take hold beyond its proposed San Francisco test bed, users could join VoIP services like Skype instead.

Skype recently disclosed that among the recent updates to its Windows client would be wireless functionality. A low-cost phone running Skype for a monthly rate of 10 to 20 dollars less than typical cellular plans, connecting via a widespread wireless network, would completely rewrite the current business model for mobile connectivity.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.