Quite a while ago I wrote about a company that intended to sue Google over patent infringement. The company called One Number threatened to sue Google for patent infringement as a result of their service, Google Voice. The Patents in question were numbers 7,680,256 and 7,440,565. They essentially spoke of a service that offered one number calling to a variety of phone lines. Now, months later, just as Google Voice brings it service to the American public, it faces another patent infringement accusation. This time however, the other player is not small, nor willing to easily back down.
On June 22, Frontier Communications filed a suit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The suit is filed against Google for patent infringement as a result of its service, Google Voice. This time, the patent in question is number 7,742,468, which guarantees the own exclusive rights to:
“A method for providing enhanced telephone services via a computerized telephone services device for use in conjunction with multiple telephone lines and providers. According to embodiments of the invention, a subscriber to telephone services or a group of subscribers may be reached on multiple telephone lines from a single dial-in number; calls in progress may be transferred seamlessly from one line associated with a subscriber to another; and group calling features may be enhanced.”
While this does sound a lot like what Google has now made available to the general public, one has to question two points. The first is, why did Verizon wait until now to file the suit? Google Voice has been up and running- by invitation only- for more than a year, but Frontier said nothing. In that time, Google Voice has accumulated more than a million users. So, there was reason to make Frontier pay attention long ago.
My second point of query is, who is really to blame? It seems that these patents, which are now being brought to light as another company stands to make a fortune from one number calling, seem awfully close in terminology as is. How is it that two companies can currently own right to one number calling?
I’m sure Google Voice will overcome the lawsuit and will be existence for years to come, but in the meantime, one has to wonder a bit about these patents.
Shutting Down Google Voice Again?
25 Jun, 2010 View Comments
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