A story was recently released about Google Voice, which stated that the service, which is still only available by invitation, maybe held up from public launch even longer than hoped. This application was originally launched in March of last year, making it more than a year old and still the greater public has not had a taste of what it has to offer. Granted, there are thousands upon thousands of users who have been invited by the company to give it a try and have enjoyed the privileges that comes with having the service, especially via smartphone- saving a tremendous sum on texting and international calling.
The reason for the suspected continuance of the delay to launch is related to a supposed patent infringement complaint issued by the One Number Company. The patents in question, numbers 7,680,256 and 7,440,565 were issued on August 18, 2005 and February 19, 2008 respectively. They read:
A contact number encapsulation system is disclosed that is operable to consolidate a plurality of contact numbers associated with a given user into a single contact number. The system includes a call processing application that uses information contained in a SIP message header to determine a list of contact numbers to call. The SIP message header contains a call destination indication that is used by the call processing application to retrieve the list of contact numbers. The list of contact numbers is user defined and may be updated or modified by an account holder at any given time. Once the list of contact numbers is obtained, a simultaneous call module is used to simultaneously call each number contained in the list. As such, the account holder only needs to provide the primary contact number to individuals desiring to reach him/her instead of various numbers that are associated with various locations the account holder may be located. (US Patents Online)
One Number complains that they had contacted Google in 2007, when the latter company was in the process of acquiring Grand Central- the company responsible for the beginnings of what is Google Voice today- but nothing was done by Google to change the outright infringement. Though a formal suit has not been filed, it has been reported that One Number is asking that Google be refused to continue with the Google Voice launch, plus pay triple the damages resulting since their service was initially launched.
I imagine that, with all the VoIP companies that offer a service very similar to this- “call forwarding” or “find me calling” as it is sometimes called- that any lawsuit would end in favor of Google, but the minds behind One Number are not entirely foolish, as this will gain them a great deal of exposure in the meantime.