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EFF Challenges Dangerous Patent on VoIP Systems

PRESS RELEASE
October 14, 2009
Illegitimate Patent Could Cripple Adoption of Voice-Over-Internet Technologies

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging a dangerous patent on voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) that could cripple the adoption of new VoIP technologies.

A communications company named Acceris was awarded this illegitimate patent for hardware, software, and processes for implementing VoIP using analog telephones as endpoints -- covering many telephone calls made over the Internet. But in a reexamination request filed today with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), EFF and the law firm Fenwick & West LLP show that a prior patent as well as published reference material both describe the underlying technology well before Acceris made its claim.

"Bogus patents like this one highlight the problems with our current patent system," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Patenting technology that is an obvious combination of well understood technological conventions opens the door to lawsuits against legitimate innovators who are creating new VoIP products in good faith."

"The overly broad claims in Acceris's patent are stifling innovation and creating uncertainty in the important field of Internet telephony," said Nikhil Iyengar of Fenwick &West. "We are confident that the Patent Office will carefully review the arguments we have presented in our reexamination request."

The challenge to the Acceris patent is part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, which combats the chilling effects of bad patents on the public and consumer interests. So far, seven patents targeted by EFF have been busted, invalidated, narrowed, or had a reexamination granted by the Patent Office.

For the full reexamination request:
https://www.eff.org/files/13487_Ex_Parte_reexamination_request_c.pdf

Contacts:

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
press@eff.org

Nikhil Iyengar
Fenwick & West LLP
niyengar@fenwick.com

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