magicJack VocalTec, the inventor of Voice over IP (VoIP), has announced that the patent infringement litigation action over the U.S. Patent No. 8, 243, 722 that was brought against it has been granted stay in light of a pending re-examination seeking for the patent cancellation in the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO).
magicJack introduced its latest magicJack Plus USB device in September 2011 which has sold over ten million devices. The device holds the software necessary to place Internet-based telephone calls via a high-speed Internet connection to conventional landlines that have been plugged into the device. It has a USB plug on one end and an RJ-11 phone jack on the other. Once it is registered online and the account set-up procedure is completed, the $70 device will offer one year of free calling across the U.S. and Canada. Beyond the first year of use, it costs $30 for a one-year subscription and $100 for a five-year subscription.
The ‘722 patent validity has been called into question following the filing of a lawsuit on November 14, 2012 which asserted that the magicJack patent raises substantial new questions against two published patent applications which predate and invalidate the patentability of the ‘722 patent. The two patents applications, assigned to YMax (News - Alert) Communications Corp., are said to predate the ‘722 patent by at least two and a half years. The case is stayed until June 14, 2013.
This is not the first time that magicJack has been involved in clashes over patent issues. In April, magicJack sued netTALK, a Miami-based competitor, alleging patent infringement. netTALK likewise claimed that magicJack was infringing on its patent issued on August 4th which lets people on devices make low-cost calls over the Internet.
In October, magicJack VocalTec (News - Alert) was granted U.S. Patent No. 8, 306, 201. According to magicJack CEO, Dan Borislow, the new patent will make communications easier, more convenient and much less costly. With the new patent, it is now possible to use just a few million telephone numbers for one billion users while still giving unique numbers to call back magicJack users on a real phone number. In fact, for those of you not familiar with magicJack the infomercial embedded here is a nice introduction
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The fact that the VoIP sector has not been immune to intellectual property litigation is unfortunate. VoIP has become not just an integral part of the fabric of enterprise communications, but also personal communications over capabilities such as Skype (News - Alert). VoIP is actually being predicted as the communications of choice in the fixed and wireless world as companies like Patton, with its comprehensive portfolio of VoIP solutions, and a host of other suppliers are busy helping enable in all market sectors.
While the protection of intellectual property is a critical business imperative, it is hoped that the VoIP sector unlike others can avoid being slowed down by litigation and can continue to flourish.
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Edited by Peter Bernstein