Vonage vs Verizon appeal: compromise mooted

Patent case appeal judge suggests toning down injunction

Vonage's appeal in its ongoing patent infringement battle with Verizon began yesterday. A judge has suggested a possible compromise that would allow Vonage to continue signing up customers while it developed workaround solutions to avoid patent infringement.

Judge Timothy B. Dyk is one of three sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit panel,. He mooted the possibility of a softer "middle ground" version of an injunction initially issued against Vonage in March. This would give Vonage time to modify its VoIP technology to avoid infringing Verizon patents.

Vonage is appealing against a jury decision in March that it had infringed Verizon patents with Vonage's VoIP technology. Verizon was awarded $58 million (£29 million) by the jury, plus royalties for future use of Verizon patents.

The judge in the case also issued an injunction against Vonage, preventing it from signing up new customers. Vonage successfully won a stay on this injunction , pending the full appeal. It argued that such an injunction could seriously damage the company before an appeal was heard.

Middle ground solution

Judge Dyk suggested the Appeals Court could instruct the original judge on the case to tone down the injunction on Vonage signing up customers.

"Isn't there kind of a middle ground in these cases when the injunction would put someone out of business? Shouldn't that be a consideration?" Assiciated Press reported Judge Dyk as commenting. "Shouldn't the district court consider allowing time for a workaround as part of the injunction?"

Representatives from Verizon said after the submissions yesterday that it had always been open to a settlement that would give Vonage more time. Meanwhile, a Vonage lawyer said they would accept a modified injunction but that they still wanted the entire verdict thrown out.

The appeal continues.