I really never thought Vonage would lose this Verizon case. I mean, I recognize that Verizon had patents and that maybe Vonage was violating them. But I just thought that Vonage's lawyers would be able to convince a jury that the patents were invalid. (This post describes the patents. I would add to that list is that once you have a VoIP network, connecting that up with regular telephone is both obvious and simple.)
It all just makes me want to spit. Slashdot has devoted a lot of coverage to this issue and from the number of posts on the last item, I think people are getting bored with it. I however, am just starting to get worked up about this.
This post pretty much sums up the state of the patent game these days.
But the real problem with this suit is that Verizon is basically suing over a process. Process patents (including software) are completely infuriating. Could a painter patent a type of brush-stroke or the use of a particular combination of colors? Apparently. Why wouldn't the process of applying paint to canvas in a particular way not be protected just like a business process? I am sure that if painting is ever industrialized, we will see such process patents.
The one saving grace of the whole debacle of the patent system was supposed to be that these companies would have to convince a jury that their ridiculous patents were enforceable. The problem is that the jurors are no more qualified to judge this case than the patent officers who granted the patents in the first place. We expect 12 random people (selected more for their malleability than their wisdom) to be able to make an informed decision over whether switching packets from one type of network to another should be patentable? Give me a break!
And, of course, that same lack of understanding means that this problem will never be resolved. The corporations are the only entities with sufficient power, knowledge and interest to change patent law. However, they're also the entities most heavily invested in the status quo. So, even though the patent system is broken and even though everyone (who would care) knows it's broken, no one will lift a finger to fix it.