Judge puts halt on new Vonage customers

A federal judge has ordered Vonage not to accept any new customers while it continues to infringe on Verizon Communications patents covering some aspects of Internet phone calls. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton said it was the only fair option that would minimize harm to both companies for now and did not offer either side a chance to make additional arguments during Friday's hearing, which lasted about an hour. "You have every right to go to the court of appeals. They might have something different to say," he told Vonage's attorneys. The leading Voice Over Internet Protocol provider has some 2.2 million subscribers.

Roger Warin, Vonage's attorney, protested Hilton's no-new-customers order telling him: "what you are doing is slowly strangling Vonage because it cannot preserve that customer base." He noted that Vonage's customer turnover rate is 2.5% per month. Vonage again said they would appeal the decision. In its original court complaint filed in June 2006, Verizon accused its growing rival of infringing on seven of its patents, but it later scaled back the scope to include only five patents. Vonage has maintained that it did not infringe on any of the Verizon patents and that its service rests on commercial, off-the-shelf technology. The company has also said that even if the verdict is upheld, its subscribers will not encounter disruptions because it is developing a technological workaround.

News source: News.com

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