VoIP patent lawsuit names several telecom carriers as defendants

Lawyers for Bear Creek Technologies have filed a lawsuit against 23 defendants, including Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Qwest (NYSE: Q), AT&T (NYSE: T), Vonage (NYSE: VG) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), alleging that they are infringing on a VoIP patent addressing interconnection technology.

The suit alleges that Bear Creek Technologies founder Joe Thompson "envisioned a paradigm in which VoIP would cooperate with existing standard telephony equipment and with the switching and trunking infrastructure already in place" and in 1996 applied for a patent, according to an article in CED Magazine.

United States Patent No. 7,889,722, titled "System for Interconnecting Standard Telephony Equipment to Internet Protocol Networks" was issued on Feb. 15, 2011.

At a glance, Bear Creek doesn't appear to be among the somewhat notorious "patent troll" type organizations that routinely purchase patents and then file lawsuits against companies appearing to infringe on them. It's a small, Alabama-based company that sells a network management software package called "TrafficWise."

Patent infringement lawsuits in the VoIP space are nothing new: in 2008 and 2009 particularly, legal paperwork was flying fast and furious as VoIP began to take up more market share, with telcos like Sprint and Verizon taking on Vonage over various patents. Results in those cases were mixed, so it remains to be seen which way BCT's lawsuit will go.

For more:
- CED has this story

Related articles:
Google Voice opens arms to the public - and Frontier slaps back with lawsuit
Sprint reaches VoIP patent agreement with Big River Telephone
Sprint files four more VoIP lawsuits
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