Sprint Nextel sues over VoIP patents

Sprint Communications sues VoIP carriers for licence fees

A unit of Sprint Nextel is suing Vonage and another VoIP provider, alleging that the companies are infringing its patents.

Sprint Communications claims the companies have violated seven patents relating to technology for processing and delivering packetised voice and data, including VoIP. Its suit seeks an injunction against further infringement and unspecified monetary damages. In addition to Vonage the suit names Voiceglo, says Sprint Nextel spokes­woman Debra Peterson.

Vonage is one of the biggest VoIP service providers in the US, with more than one million active lines, according to the company. Voiceglo, based in Florida, also provides packet-based phone services over the internet.

Sprint Nextel had been talking with the companies for more than a year, Peterson says.

“We had tried to discuss possible licence agreements that would permit them to use our [intellectual property] legally,” Peterson says. But the companies were unable to reach agreement.

“We’re going to take all steps necessary to protect the creativity and innovation of our employees,” Peterson says. She declined to comment on whether Sprint Nextel has been negotiating with other VoIP providers or whether it planned to take legal action against them.

Vonage and Voiceglo were not available for comment.

Sprint Nextel was formed earlier this year through the merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications. It is the third-largest mobile operator in the US and also has wireline operations inherited from Sprint.

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