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Death of patent troll sparks Vonage retrial request

Embattled VoIP provider, Vonage, filed a request with the US Court of Appeals on Tuesday, asking for a retrial of the case in which it was found guilty of infringing Verizon owned patents.

In a landmark decision on Monday, the US Supreme Court passed legislation making it easier to invalidate patents that are deemed obvious or excessively broad reaching.

The ruling will allow companies to better challenge patents of questionable quality and will go some way to weeding out the patent trolls. The move is likely to spark equal reactions of praise and concern throughout the tech industry, which has seen an abundance of such disputes.

In its filing with the court in Washington DC, Vonage asked the appeals court to send the decision back to the lower court to retry the case based on the new test for determining when an invention is too obvious to warrant patent protection.

Vonage faces the very real threat of closure after being found guilty of infringing on VoIP patents owned by Verizon. The internet telephony company recently won a stay of injunction allowing it to keep signing up subscribers whilst a decision is made on its future.

The company has consistently maintained it does not infringe on Verizon’s technology, contesting that the patents Verizon owns on VoIP technology are too far reaching.

Three VoIP-related patents, Verizon’s name translation (‘574 and ‘711) and wireless (‘880), are those in dispute.

“Everyone knows you can’t patent an orange, but you can – and someone likely already does – hold the patent for an orange picker,” said Sharon O’Leary, Vonage’s executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary.

“According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, if you patent an orange picker, and then someone else comes along and puts a glove on it to protect the oranges against bruising, you can’t patent this new invention as “novel” as it is just an obvious improvement of the original invention. The Supreme Court’s decision thus focuses on keeping only what’s truly novel and original protected by patents,” O’Leary said.

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