Verizon Sues Charter Over Voice Patents


Verizon Communications has sued a second cable company -- Charter Communications -- for patent infringement, less than a month after filing an identical lawsuit against Cox Communications.

The telephone company filed the complaint against Charter Feb. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. 

The allegations against Charter are the same as those Verizon made in a lawsuit filed last month against Cox, in federal court in Virginia. Both suits claim that the cable companies infringe on eight patents, owned by Verizon or predecessor companies, related to delivering phone service over data networks.

Verizon seeks unspecified monetary damages that are "no less than a reasonable royalty," and wants Charter to be blocked from using the patents in the future.

"We are currently analyzing Verizon's claims and cannot comment on our defenses at this time, but Charter does intend to vigorously defend itself," Charter media relations manager Anita Lamont said, in an e-mail.

The telco said the Texas court has jurisdiction over the action by noting that Charter provides service to 182,200 customers in the state. The Eastern District of Texas courts are perceived to be favorable to plaintiffs in patent litigation.

Verizon is waging the legal campaign against cable voice services after its victory against Internet phone provider Vonage, which a federal appeals court affirmed infringed two of the telco's patents. In October, Vonage said it would pay Verizon up to $120 million to settle the suit.

The eight Verizon patents in the Charter and Cox suits include the two Vonage was found to have infringed, which cover translating information for routing phone calls over packet-based networks: U.S. Patents No. 6,104,711 and 6,282,574.

The six other Verizon patents in the lawsuits cover methods and systems for:

  • quality of service for a communications session (6,970,930);
  • quality of service in a hybrid network (6,335,927);
  • enhanced signaling over hybrid networks (6,430,275);
  • network session management (6,137,869);
  • inter-carrier signaling for connectivity between packet-based and circuit-switched networks (6,292,481); and
  • providing services in a communications network, including a universal directory function (6,636,597).

The Verizon suit against Charter has case docket number 5:08-cv-00025. Judge David Folsom of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Texarkana has been assigned to the case.Verizon's lead attorney is Damon Young of Young, Pickett & Lee in Texarkana.