Well spring Von was last week, and for the first time since I’ve been in the VoIP industry I didn’t attend a VON show. It was ok cuz I hadn’t recieved my new passport yet anyways, and because of Canada’s vast propensity for terrorism I wouldn’t have been allowed into everybody’s favorite xenophobic country. I WOULD have had my passport, but not only do we have a vast propensity for terrorism, as a somewhat socialist country we’ve developed a vast propensity for bureaucratic hell and incompetence. But more on that in another, much ranty-er post.
Anyways, I didn’t attend this year for a number of reasons, the passport issue not actually being one of them. Mainly, the western Von has a smaller percentage of my customers, seeing as I work Eastern North America as a territory. I mean, all the big guys are there, but they’ve all met me and stuff. Secondly, we had a few new people who needed to get some contacts and meets. And finally, I just plain had too much to do up here in the office. Not that I aced it all. Sigh.
Anyways, from all reports, Spring VON was yet another uber successful show for us. The quality customers keep on coming by, and we showed some upcoming product. Of course our product was on display in a number of booths and people know who we are. The team down there included some sales guys, some marketing, and some engineering so we had the gamut covered as far as knowledge base and ability to answer questions. I was disappointed that Jeff Pulver didn’t have a picture from our booth on his blog, but I guess he can’t put everyone on there. So…I guess that’s all I can say about VON…yup…”I didn’t go, show sounded good” … that’s it.
So Vonage and Verizon…oooo the excitement over there in darkest New Jersey. A judge has ruled that Verizon had a better legal team and hence won a patent infringement suit that probably just put a hole in the dam holding these things back. The basic nuts of it is that Vonage must pay Verizon 58 million dollars in damages plus a 5% royalty on all customers for the 3 patents they violated. Then this week, the judge agreed to grant an injunction against Vonage using the disputed patents until everything is hunky dory. Except, not really, cuz he gave them two weeks to decide if they want to appeal etc. Of course, they will. This will be in litigation for a long long long time, I think. Vonage has to stand up for themselves…with the high cost of acquisition, the low ARPU, the falling share prices…well, they are the short stack on a table against a deep stack opponent and need to go all in or get blinded out of the tourney (er…a little poker reference there, in case you didn’t get it).
These patent lawsuits are real fuzzy, and it’s never black and white who’s in the wrong. This will tie up money and lawyers time for a long time, I think. However long it takes to complete this, we can rest assured that the repercussions will include a number of other similar lawsuits from various groups. I read today somewhere (sorry don’t remember where or I’d link it) that there are over 2000 VoIP specific patents out there, held by numerous different holders. This doesn’t even count codec patents. The culture of litigation we live in means that some of these patent holders will see an opportunity. It could get pretty brutal out there…