A judge today barred Vonage from signing up new customers
, following the ruling last month that it was infringing
on some Verizon patents. According to ZDNet, the judge "said it was the only fair option that would minimize harm to both companies for now." It's hard to see how that's true, though. Clearly the harm on Vonage isn't being minimized, as an inability to sign up new customers will eventually kill the company. Once again, it's hard to see how patents are being used here to promote innovation. It's fairly obvious that Verizon has no interest in settling the case or licensing its patents, but rather it's an entrenched, slow-moving telco that simply wants to shut down its competition
rather than compete in the marketplace. It's sad to see the judge allowing them to cripple Vonage in such a way, particularly after the Supreme Court said in the eBay-MercExchange case that injunctions aren't always the proper remedy
, while appeals courts seem to have a better understanding that immediate injunctions aren't always the best solution
because the harm a false injunction can do is significant and irreparable. Another story says the judge concluded that because the telecommunications market is so competitive, that there would be no impact
on the public interest if the injunction were put in place -- but what happens when Verizon and other companies start suing other VoIP providers
for patent infringement, seeking in some cases, heavy damages, but in others, simply to get some of that competition shut down?