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Vonage sees hope in Supreme Court patent crackdown

Evan Blass

Still consumed in a bitter fight for its very survival, embattled VoIP provider Vonage -- recently granted an eleventh-hour pardon from that permanent injunction -- has announced that it will attempt to leverage Monday's landmark Supreme Court decision in seeking a completely new trial. In what is widely seen as both a blow to patent trolls as well as a tough new barrier in the patent application process, the Court ruled that one auto parts manufacturer had not infringed upon another's intellectual property in designing a new gas pedal, because the original pedal was merely an improvement on older models and should not have been granted a patent in the first place. Under this new, looser definition of "obviousness," argues Vonage, the Verizon patents in question would also be deemed upgrades of existing technology at the time they were issued -- and therefore invalid. It remains to be seen whether the appeals court will agree, grant the recently-reorganized company a new trial, and prolong this soap opera for several months or more, but what is clear from recent Court activity (including a Microsoft victory over AT&T) is that the days of a rubber-stamping patent office may be numbered, and that the NTP's and OPTi's of the world had better find a new way to pay the bills.

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