Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Vonage For Use Of Verizon's Patents

Friday, March 23rd 2007, 12:18 pm

By: News On 6

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A federal judge on Friday issued a permanent injunction against Internet phone carrier Vonage for use of rival Verizon Communications Inc.'s patents.

Judge Claude Hilton said an injunction, which followed a jury decision that Vonage had infringed on three Verizon patents, is required because simply providing monetary damages ``does not prevent continued erosion of the client base of the plaintiff.''

A hearing was to be held later Friday on whether the injunction will be stayed pending appeal.

Verizon lawyer Dan Webb said New York-based Verizon is suffering irreparable harm from Vonage's patent infringement, losing hundreds of thousands of customers to its competitor.

Webb said a permanent injunction is required because Vonage ``is a company that is in deteriorating condition in the marketplace.'' He said they could run up future monetary damages and then be unable to pay.

Vonage, based in Holmden, N.J., has been vague in describing how an injunction would affect its services. It filed a legal brief on the issue under seal.

But shortly after the jury verdict in the case earlier this month, Vonage reassured its 2.2 million customers that service will not be affected by the court case, indicating that it would deploy different technologies to work around the patents in question.

Vonage lawyer Roger Warin said Verizon is misstating the facts to suit its purposes.

Verizon sued Vonage last year for infringing on five patents it said makes the Internet telephone service network functional. On March 8, the eight-person jury found that Vonage had infringed on three of them. And it ruled that Vonage must pay $58 million, plus possible future royalties, to Verizon. That was far less than the $197 million that Verizon had requested, and was even slightly less than what Vonage had suggested would be fair if it were found liable.

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