Patent-holding company Klauser Technologies is suing AOL for 200 million bucks.
The complaint alleges that when AOL added VoIP to its menu of services, it committed a big patent infringement no-no.
Some of my fellow bloggers are not entirely convinced by Klauser's arguments.
Tom Keating says that "this is probably yet another case of patent extortion by someone that probably steals someone else's idea but patents it first."
Ted Wallingford sub-heads his entry New Business Model: Get vague patents and sue AOL for $200 million with this scorcher: "From the Frivolous Lawsuit and Courtroom Shakedown Dept.
I'm a blogger but (much to me Mum's regret) not a lawyer, so I decided to go to the actual patent that Klauser claims is being fringed upon.
Talkin' U.S. Patent 5,572,576, "Telephone answering device linking displayed data with recorded audio message."
When you read patent applications, you get the gist of the patent from the Abstract. Patent attorneys and applicants place a high priority on putting the meat of their case in that section.
OK, here's what it says:
A telephone answering device (TAD) which includes a means of intelligently organizing voice messages, associated entered codes such as personal IDs and home telephone numbers, and information stored in the memory of the TAD. These codes or numbers are decoded by means of the caller entering DTMF signals into the telephone which are recognized, recorded and processed by the TAD.
When processed with codes and personal information previously entered into the device's memory, the TAD displays the identity of the callers for each message, thus providing a menu of choices, i.e., a list of callers. This enables the user to access messages in a selective manner based on the identity of the caller.
The need to listen to the actual voice messages to determine the caller's identity and the need to listen to the messages sequentially or chronologically is obviated, saving both time and effort. Additionally, because the voice message is also linked to pre-stored additional data in the data base, when hearing a message, one also can view relevant associated information, such as a fax number, etc., that might not have been left in the audio message but might be important. A remote access device is also provided that allows the user to retrieve and display the callers' identities and select a message to be played back from a remote location.
OK, you tell me. Doesn't this sound general, like most voice mail retrieval via device display?
Oh, and where does it say VoIP?
Yea, shudda coulda wudda been a lawyer...