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Net2phone Sues Skype 187

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-you-can't-beat-em-sue-em dept.
robyannetta writes "Net2phone is suing Skype for patent infringement, arguing Skype violated patent 6,108,704 for 'the exchange of IP addresses between processing units in order to establish a direct communications link between the devices via the Internet.'"
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Net2phone Sues Skype

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  • I'm Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mikya (901578) <mikyathemad AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:28AM (#15477975)
    Isn't this what every computer does when it communicates with another?
    • but I think it is a way for transmissions to get around NAT routers, perhaps even when both parties are using them and can only do outgoing connections. How it would work, I don't know.
    • by Thnikkaman (818752) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:31AM (#15477987) Homepage
      And these computers form some sort of bond to each other... a network of sorts. Hey, what if this "network" went to computers beyond those that are in close proximity. An international network of sorts. An "Internet" for short. Consider it patented, kids. I'm gonna be rich.
    • Re:I'm Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spezzer (101371) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:53AM (#15478029)
      The patent infringement I believe is that clients register their IP addresses with a database so other clients can learn of their 'online status' and associated IP address in order to communicate.

      This seems quite similar to the 'tracker' functionality of BitTorrent, which is essentially the same thing. I imagine there exists some sort of prior art from the 80s, but I can't think of any at the moment...
      • Re:I'm Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pieroxy (222434)
        I don't know about the 80s, but in 1999 Napster sure did this.
      • Re:I'm Confused (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Darko8472 (966542)
        So, in other words they're also going to sue MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, AIM, and every other company that's developed an IM protocol? This seems a little ridiculous to me.
        • Nope. This is a direct communication link. MSN, Y!, ICQ and AIM all use indirect communication, meaning that you are sending your messages to a central (obviously redundant and load balanced) server and they send it back to the right client. Even IRC uses this form of communication.

          The patent is not justified as well. Many p2p clients did direct connection back in the 90s. Haven't read it and IANAL, so maybe there is some stuff in it that is outside what p2p networks did...

          Anyone here who went through the

          • Re:I'm Confused (Score:2, Informative)

            by Grayraven (95321)
            Actually, ICQ supports direct connections. The server is only used if there's no way to send the message directly. Also, IRC DCC is direct.
          • But IRC is capable of direct communication by negotiating a transfer of IP address, is it not?
            • with nat you can only send or receive, i cannot remember which, the DCC to someone who has portforwarding.

              in this case, the point in the middle is telling either side which ports to use, since with UDP you can control that a little better when you make a raw packet, which is what allows the NAT routers to handle the state table.
        • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @05:18AM (#15478222) Journal
          The summary of their patent lists two methods - the first one uses a presence server, and the second does something hokey with email. The claims in their patent list provide lots of gory detail, but are pretty difficult to read.

          Many Instant Messaging protocols and the major standard VOIP protocols use presence servers to keep track of the users. When you want to call somebody, you check with the server to see if they're logged in (and optionally whether they're busy), get their IP address, and connect to them, or alternatively the server tells the destination client that you're going to call them or that you want them to call you. (There are other kinds of IM protocols that funnel all the messages through the central server, and some of the protocols support relay servers which let you connect directly within an administrative zone and go through the relay to get to other zones.)

          H.323 [techabulary.com], dating back to 1996, is the most common VOIP standard, and it uses a presence server to communicate the IP address (and also UDP port number) of the endpoints. SIP is a newer protocol that everybody _says_ they're going to support, and many vendors have their own proprietary protocols (e.g. Cisco Skinny) that either predate H.323 or provide additional functions that it doesn't use, but basically almost everybody out there supports H.323 at least as a fallback. SIP's proxy servers make it a much more flexible protocol for the long run.

          At least based on the summary and an initial reading of about half the claims section, their first method doesn't have any fundamentally new concepts. It might implement some of the standard concepts in novel ways, and perhaps that's what they're arguing, but at the level of the summary there nothing new there. Their second method says in the summary that they use email, and unless they mean something other than SMTP, it's a pretty crude mechanism to use for automated processing, but saying "email your IP address to the human at the other end so he can read it and call you" doesn't strike me as either novel or non-obvious to someone skilled in the trade.

          • Funny you mention Cisco... they actually do use SIP these days. Skinny, while depreciated and "removed from IOS" long ago, is still present and functional in IOS 12.4.

            W.r.t. STMP, Microsoft's "Remote Help" does exactly this. It'll email an XML attachment to the "helper" which tells the remote desktop client where to connect.

            If you want prior art, look no further than FTP -- PORT and later PASV both communicate an IP address for "direct communication." (granted, there's no "database" involved.)
          • Check the date (Score:4, Informative)

            by MemeRot (80975) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @12:06PM (#15480520) Homepage Journal
            This was filed in September of 1995. You'll need prior art from then or earlier to invalidate this, a protocol from 1996 is no help.
            • Netscape 3.0 gold had cool talk with watchdog. If i remeber right, the watchdog used something like this. It should be from a '95-'96 area of time wich means they might have some prior art before this.
      • Re:I'm Confused (Score:5, Informative)

        by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @05:01AM (#15478192) Journal
        Does that mean net2phone's patent covers instant messaging software, SIP, IRC, and every other communication method that involves availability state and connection information being stored on the server? Hell, even POTS sorta implements this by knowing how to route your phone number ("address") and track your state ("busy").

        Meh. PTO, I'll make this easy for you. This patent has "obvious" and "prior art" written all over it.

        FTFPatent:


        A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet. A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a positive on-line status of the second processing unit, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.


        ICQ? Jabber? SIP? Napster? Bittorrent?


        A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, including a first IP address, from a first processing unit; (b) processing the E-mail signal through the Internet to deliver the E-mail signal to a second processing unit; and (c) transmitting a second IP address to the first processing unit for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.


        Ok - I don't have time to read the whole patent, but WTF is an E-mail signal? Just the email address? So, the bright idea here is to use an obvious and invented wheel to resolve a peer's IP address, and to then send the e-mail address. fscking brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?

        Damn. It doesn't take much to make a few million these days.
        • How the hell is this how things work?

          A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a
          • I believe (though IANAL and I could be wrong) it's a long-running practice that patents are written in this way. The best theory I've heard is that it's to make the patents unreadable to anyone but patent lawyers, in order to make sure anyone who wants to find out what the hell the patent is trying to say has to hire one...
        • Re:I'm Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Algan (20532)
          ICQ? Jabber? SIP? Napster? Bittorrent?

          None of these was there in '95, when they applied for this patent. The only thing I can think of that might constitute prior art would be IRC.
        • FTFPatent ... "A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, ..."

          So if you don't use SMTP to connect the remote clients together, you're not infringing, I guess.

          Shitdrummer.
        • Re:I'm Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@NosPAM.elis.ugent.be> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:45AM (#15478958) Homepage
          You're quote the summary paragraph, which is (largely) irrelevant as far as what is covered by the patent. You have to look at the claims. The independent claims (claims which do not refer to another claim) are the broadest, and often claim 1 is the broadest of them all. In this case:


          1. A computer program product for use with a computer system, the computer system executing a first process and operatively connectable to a second process and a server over a computer network, the computer program product comprising:

          a computer usable medium having program code embodied in the medium, the program code comprising:

          program code for transmitting to the server a network protocol address received by the first process following connection to the computer network;

          program code for transmitting, to the server, a query as to whether the second process is connected to the computer network;

          program code for receiving a network protocol address of the second process from the server, when the second process is connected to the computer network; and

          program code, responsive to the network protocol address of the second process, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first process and the second process over the computer network.


          It's indeed quite possible that IRC is prior art for this. And although it corresponds roughly to the summary paragraph in this case, this is often not the case.

          That said, what's most objectionable about this is that it's a software patent, not so much whether or not it's new or non-obvious. After all, there's no macro-economic rationale for having software patents, just some legalistic arguments and some based on "natural rights" (although the patent system is an economic policy tool, and not something to "reward" or "justly treat" people; "sweat of the brow" is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for obtaining a patent).
      • Speakfreely http://www.speakfreely.org/ [speakfreely.org] is from 1991 and have Look Who's Listening servers.
        (although I do not know if it had the servers right from the start)
        • I doubt SpeakEasy had Look Who's Listening servers from the start. The earliest reference I can find in the development log [speakfreely.org] is 30 October 1995, though it's clear development of the feature began before this...
      • Hrmm, IRC chat servers could be prior art, they supply, on clients request, info on status and IP address of a user, which then allows direct communication (DCC).
      • I imagine there exists some sort of prior art from the 80s, but I can't think of any at the moment...

        I don't doubt that examples from the 80s exist.

        I do remember using "Freetel" in 1995 (my freshman year) for internet telephony. It really wasn't much different from what skype is today, except for the reliability factor. They also did not have any equivalents for "SkypeIn" and "SkypeOut".

        I don't know what ever happened to Freetel. Dialpad quickly overtook them.

        I also remember some collabrative whi

        • IRC has almost always been there since FTP.

          It was orignally intended as a protocol that did not need a direct client program. You can make easy commands via a line terminal.

          The thing about net2phone is that I think it negotiates NAT which IRC DCC does not do without port forwarding.
    • no it isn't (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is basically a patent on STUN... this isn't good for VoIP if it is upheld.
    • Re:I'm Confused (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chrispl (189217)
      It's true.

      Don't worry, proof of prior art exists: the entire Internet.

      This is the networking equivalent of patenting the fork.
      • It's true.

        Don't worry, proof of prior art exists: the entire Internet.

        This is the networking equivalent of patenting the fork.


        I think you'll find they're thinking of the P2P nature of Skype to get around NAT/firewalls etc that will not allow a direct connection between sites - so they discover a third party and shuffle all comms via that third party also running skype. This is why Skype will always use bandwidth even if you're not in a call.
    • As far as I can tell, the patent describes a system wherein a central system serves as a look-up system for establishing a P2P connection. It also checks to see if the other system is available. Essentially it boils down to a DNS system.
  • As the first poster said. I'm hoping, though, that this gets thrown out the window faster than it came in, because I use skype a lot, and love it. It would suck to have such a great service hampered by an idiotic lawsuit.
  • Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:31AM (#15477985) Homepage Journal

    One way is you store your IP addresses on a server and go to the server when you want the IP address of another machine. Sounds like dynamic DNS or probably 1000 other similar systems for enabling PTP communication.

    The other way is to send an email with your IP address in it. Posting your IP address on slashdot isn't covered though so I supose that way is still not patented.

    • It is now! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Thanks for the idea!

      x. Profit!!!
    • How about RFC 959 [ietf.org] (FTP, dated October of 1985)?

      One mode of operation explicitly outlined on page 9 transfers a file from one server to another under the control of a 3rd machine. The 3rd machine logs into both FTP servers. It initiates a passive recieve on one server and a 'normal' send on the other. The DATA (IP address and port) is passed from the reciever to the sender so that they form a direct connection with each other and complete the transfer.

      If a bi-directional transfer is needed, just do that

  • DCC? Direct IM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZxCv (6138) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:32AM (#15477989) Homepage
    Any more examples of "the exchange of IP addresses between processing units in order to establish a direct communications link between the devices via the Internet.'"?

    Maybe Net2phone will go after AOL and the guy who wrote mIRC, too.
    • Half the stuff I have written for work to enable client zero configuration, advertises it's IP address and the configuration server talks direct to the client, falls under this.

      I guess you can patent common sense these days ...

    • Re:DCC? Direct IM? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by interiot (50685)
      Try any IP protocol out there... IP headers include the to/from address, so that the receiver of a message can turn around and reply. So RFC 791 is prior art for this.
    • How about ping?

      ping someserver.com

      First, a DNS lookup is made to discover the IP address of someserver.com.
      Next, ping uses that information to transmit information directly to the someserver.com server, including the IP address of the sender so that the server at someserver.com can respond.
      Finally, someserver.com sends a reply directly back to the sender's IP address.

      Jefferson warned us there would be patents like this one...
    • Unix Talk
  • by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmythe@gmai l . com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:32AM (#15477990)
    They got a patent on dynamic routing tables? Applications have been saving databases of IP addresses for ages. Technically, any two devices that create an IP connection do this, since they save each other's IP addresses in a data structure that describes the connection parameters.

    Un-freakin'-believable.

  • Proir art- ICQ (Score:3, Informative)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:34AM (#15477997)
    From the summary, ICQ seems like a perfect example of prior art- the central ICQ server farm had a list of hosts in a database, and their online status. When you sent a message to them, it get their IP and sent it on to you so you could create a direct connection.
    • Re:Proir art- ICQ (Score:2, Informative)

      by Spezzer (101371)
      ICQ was created in 1996, and this patent was *filed* in 1995 and granted in 2000. Does this mean ICQ is still prior art?

      Basically, does prior art have to be prior to the filing or the granting?
  • by Falcon040 (915278) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:47AM (#15478014)
    Thats obvious, A 'middle man' so to speak bringing two partners together, i.e. giving the phone numbers of each other to each other. Its ever so simple.

    Hasn't ICQ been using this too? All communication doesn't go through a central server, surely not! And I really doubt ICQ would have been the first!

    I can't believe how patents are being used to destroy competition and innovation. At this rate, those countries heavily restricted by patents are going to fall competitively behind those countries who compete to innovate and improve quality and efficiency.

    It really is a pity that software patents continue to stifle innovation and competition.

    More freedom and liberalisation is needed to create wealth: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=185961&cid=153 49064 [slashdot.org] Instead of using restrictive patents to keep others from competing in an area.

    The US alreasy became number one in software in the past. They did this because they didn't have software patents on simple obvious ideas, but they did have copyright to protect people's hard work. Now in the US, companies are employing patents to keep out competition, so the ultimate result will be technology and the high tech sector moving abroad. What is needed is the opposite of patents and restrictions on what you can invent - what is needed is liberalisation with the removal of software patents and removal of the patenting of concepts, numbers, ideas and discoveries.

    • At this rate, those countries heavily restricted by patents are going to fall competitively behind those countries who compete to innovate and improve quality and efficiency.

      Which is exactly why the patent lawyers took over the one country that outspends everyone else on military first. That it has a president that thinks things like 'national sovereignty' are just outmoded nonsense, and believes himself Emperor of the World, is very helpful.

      You see, the idea is to make sure there AREN'T any nations lef

    • More freedom and liberalisation is needed to create wealth

      Absolutely agreed! When I see descriptions of problems in the 3rd world (see any charity commercial), many of the problems DON'T require a pile of cash to solve. Many such as the unsanitary conditions could be solved with a shovel and a few hours work.

      The combination of lack of knowledge and being way too busy just trying to get enough food is what really prevents those simple solutions from working (or being tried at all). That and, of course,

  • by necromcr (836137)
    is morse code patented and what baud rates can you achieve?
  • by Barraketh (630764) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:49AM (#15478022)
    Now, as everyone has pointed out, just about anything on the internet will qualify as prior art. Seriously - pick any random common service that runs over the internet, and it's prior art. However, people are missing the deep point behind this move:

    1) Borrow Skype stock. Sell it.
    2) Sue Skype. Skype stock goes down
    3) Buy Skype stock at low price (as much as you can). Return the stock you borrowed, keep the rest.
    4) Get bitchslapped in court. Skype stock goes up.
    5) Sell Skype stock at high price.
    6) Profit!!

    Notice the lack of the ??? step... this is foolproof. Hell, I should go sue someone for something - it doesn't even matter what, the way the market works all you need is a little publicity for your lawsuit, and you're golden!
    • Re:It's brilliant! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by larytet (859336)
      Skype is not a public company. eBay is, but the stock performs so-so for some time already
      • by Barraketh (630764) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:46AM (#15478157)
        Who the hell are you, and what are you doing on slashdot? Come on - to know stuff like this, I would have had to do some sort of research. Me, I'm beyond that! Hell, I didn't even read the article, but look at me posting... I'm unstoppable!

        On a slightly unrelated topic, stop moderating my parent post as funny! It's insightful! Insightful goddamit! Jeez people - I give you gold...
    • Re:It's brilliant! (Score:4, Informative)

      by OlivierB (709839) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:44AM (#15478154)
      What you are talking about (unknowingly) is called volatility trading. You can basically do this without borrowing any stock and with much less capital; simply execute this strategy with options (you will need to buy a combination of calls and puts and carefully chosen strikes for maximum leverage, but that's beyond the point of this post.).

      FUD is a big volatility driver in the market.
  • Interesting patent. It's just describes what a (IP) telephony switch does.
    Seems funny they're just suing Skype (direct competitor), but not MSN.

    BTW: Their algorithm looks very similar to a P2P tracker (like bittorrent) without the peers telling anything about how much datablocks they have/want.
  • Can anyone think of a good way for two Skype clients to establish a P2P connection that would not violate this patent?

    If not, then the method described in this patent must be pretty obvious, and therefore not patentable...
    • Re:Obviousness (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think Skype has to worry about this one. The patent was filed in 2000, and CuCme was using reflectors that did exactly that back in 96 (or was it 98?). Basically, there is so much prior art for that patent that the lawsuite will probably be tossed.
  • When I setup a SIP call, the RTP session is setup between the endpoints using the IP address of the end points passed in teh SIP messages.
  • More like STUN (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:54AM (#15478036) Homepage
    This sounds more like STUN than like DNs really.

    Normally, two computers that are both nated have no way of directly contacting eachother.

    STUN is a method by which they still can, by getting information on ip and portnumber for the other side from a third source. (in this case the Skype-network)

    If we both know, that we're listening for UDP packets on :33115 and you on :22056 then we can communicate, trough double NAT if need be by both sending a single packet to the other. This will cause the NAT-routers to set up mappings, so that any response packets coming from the other side will get trough.

    Kinda sorta. For a more precise explanation see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STUN [wikipedia.org]

    I wonder how the patent filing-date compares to the earlier draft-versions of the RFC...

  • Last resort (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loqi (754476) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:56AM (#15478044)
    Does this strike anyone else as a last ditch kind of reaction? Net2phone is quite possibly looking at Skype as their doom. Why not fire off a salvo from the patent chest, when you've got nothing to lose? Maybe the patent cold war will finally boil over and more people will realize how ridiculous the situation is! Maybe pigs will fly! Yes!
  • by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:59AM (#15478062)
    LOL.
  • by layer3switch (783864) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:02AM (#15478066)
    comm link between two devices initiating PTP link by email from sender to middle-tier switch/server to query the route to the final destination which will respond with on/off status to middle-tier switch/server and back to original sender.

    I don't think, the summary does the justice, however broad none the less. I'm not even sure if Skype works this way. But I think, the key word here is "E-Mail". I also think, it's safe to say, since it's using "E-Mail", there is no original invention here. It's just using whatever is already invented. So what's so patentable about this?

    blah, it's late... I might be totally wrong on this.
  • From the Patent: (Score:5, Informative)

    by dlichterman (868464) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:18AM (#15478102)
    Abstract
    A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet. A first point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) storing in a database a respective IP address of a set of processing units that have an on-line status with respect to the Internet; (b) transmitting a query from a first processing unit to a connection server to determine the on-line status of a second processing unit; and (c) retrieving the IP address of the second unit from the database using the connection server, in response to the determination of a positive on-line status of the second processing unit, for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet. A second point-to-point Internet protocol includes the steps of (a) transmitting an E-mail signal, including a first IP address, from a first processing unit; (b) processing the E-mail signal through the Internet to deliver the E-mail signal to a second processing unit; and (c) transmitting a second IP address to the first processing unit for establishing a point-to-point communication link between the first and second processing units through the Internet.

    So......they Patented the internet????? http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fs rchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,108,704.PN.&OS=PN/6,1 08,704&RS=PN/6,108,704 [uspto.gov]
  • Peace not war? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PsyCHZZZ (931449) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:49AM (#15478167) Homepage
    can't we all live happily together and stop sue-ing each other... this is sad.
    • can't we all live happily together and stop sue-ing each other... this is sad.

      I love how this is modded Funny. I find it rather poigniant and sad. I'm so TIRED of reading about these goddamned lawsuits over frivilous and unnecessary and indefensible patents. Wanna talk about stifiling innovation? Patents, currently, are MUCH, MUCH worse than any copyright issues we bitch about here on /.

  • Possible solution. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You know what might make frivolous patent suites like this less common? If, in the event of a court loss, the patent holder and the patent holder's lawyers had their hands hacked off and impaled on spikes lining the roof of the court.

    It's harsh, but by God you'd think twice.
  • What about DCC ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Vapula (14703)
    During IRC communications, you could ask for a DCC (DCC SEND, DCC CHAT) which is Direct Client to Client (P2P). DCC Requests include the IP address and the port to be used to establish the communication, either to send a file or to use a direct chat (without using the IRC server anymore)
  • It's ok, Skype can just cross-license their patent for powering said processing units with a stream of moving electrons and they can both go along their merry way.
  • by Vo0k (760020)
    Of course acquiring IP addresses from a database is standard DNS, so the idea can't be patented, and isn't. But specific methods to achieve the above are patentable and, say, some sophisticated p2p connection creation method would be.

    The patent in question is about using one (arbitrary) protocol to obtain access to a database server which holds online status and IP of the target. That's pretty much what ICQ and followers do, and with some stretch, IRC too. Patentable - probably not. Then still, if patented,
  • Counter sue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ryanduff (948159) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @05:18AM (#15478223)
    Skype should counter sue Net2Phone for wasting their time and money. Seriously though, if the legal system wasn't so f'd up in this country, nobody would be able to get away with suing for everything and anything just on a whim. If lawyers weren't so money hungry, they wouldn't approach a company and tell them they have a potential law suit just so they themselves can make money. If they can get you to go to court, they'll make money off you either way, regardless of who wins.
  • Skype, what with their continuing attempt to monopolize the (consumer) VOIP market on a proprietary protocol, deserves some shit to happen, but I generally applaud software patent suits only when they're targeted at a pro-swpat lobbyist or someone just misusing the system like hell. I'm not sure Skype/E-Bay qualify at this point, so, bummer. Still, the targeting could be worse, too.
  • I find it ironic that Net2Phone would be trying to claim any patent/invention ownership of thier software, considering the fact that they stole the source code for VocalTec and called it Net2Phone....
  • I always found Net2Phone to be just a shitty operation borderlining on spam. Of course that may be because I haven't looked at it since the 90's. But in this world it's becoming dangerous to have made something that is popular and everyone likes (Skype) because either some two-bit operation that failed at it in the 90's or a patent troll are going to sue you.

    How do these patents get past the patent office anyway? Is there anybody even LOOKING at these things? Doesn't anyone EVER get denied? Or is it
  • Forget the prior art angle, this should lose on the merit of 'non-obvious to a practitioner in the field' part of patent law.

    If you met the friend of a friend, hit it off, and said, "Hey, can you give me your phone number?", you are violating the spirit of this patent. That is the "exchange of in order to establish a direct communications link".
  • First the vindictive part - this smells like a response to Skype making their USA/Canada calls free until the end of the year.

    Now the litigious fool part - sounds like they're trying to patent the internet. Someone call Al Gore, Quick!
  • Hello,

    Strangely enough, the patent [uspto.gov] describes an IP and email address registration and lookup mechanism which appears to be identical to that used by Tribal Voice's PowWow [wikipedia.org] program.

    PowWow worked by registering the user's email address, IP address and password with a database serve. If the password matched, the IP address associated with the email address was updated in the database. When someone wanted to chat with another user, they entered (or selected) the email address for the other user, which did

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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