EFF Challenges VOIP Systems Patent

As part of its Patent Busting Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation claims it has discovered a prior patent and published reference material that should invalidate a patent granted to Acceris for implementing VOIP using analog telephones as endpoints.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced Oct. 14 that it is asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate a patent granted to Acceris for "hardware, software and processes for implementing VOIP [voice over IP] using analog telephones as endpoints." The EFF claimed the patent "could cripple the adoption of new VOIP technologies."
In a re-examination request filed Oct. 14 by the EFF and law firm Fenwick & West, the EFF said they showed 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," EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said in a statement. "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 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," the statement continued. "So far, seven patents targeted by EFF have been busted, invalidated, narrowed or had a re-examination granted by the Patent Office."

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