Vonage wins appeal against bar on new work

A US appeal court has blocked a lower court ruiling that barred telecommunications provider Vonage Holdings from providing service to new customers.

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A US appeal court has blocked a lower court ruiling that barred Vonage Holdings from providing service to new customers.

On 6 April, judge Claude Hilton of the US District Court for Virginia ordered Vonage to stop signing up new customers following a March jury ruling that the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider had infringed three Verizon Communications patents on VoIP technologies. On the same day, the US Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit in Washington gave Vonage a temporary stay of Hilton's order.

The appeals court made the stay permanent while Vonage appeals the patent infringement decision. Vonage believes it has a strong case for appeal, company officials said.

Vonage applauded the appeals court decision. "It's business as usual for us," Jeffrey Citron, Vonage's chairman and interim chief executive officer, said. "We remain focused on growing and strengthening our business and driving toward profitability."

Verizon said it was happy that the appeals court set a tight schedule for hearing Vonage's appeal, about two months, instead of a year or more for a typical appeal. "The expedited schedule will accomplish the same thing that a partial stay of the injunction, pending a longer appeal, would have accomplished -- limiting Vonage's infringement during the appeal," John Thorne, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said. Verizon expects the jury verdict will be upheld.

Vonage and its allies have argued that the District Court interpreted the Verizon patents too broadly. The jury in early March ordered Vonage to pay $58m (£29m) for infringing three Verizon patents, two of which focus on using name translation to connect VoIP calls to traditional telephone networks.

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