Virtual PBX Featured Article

Sprint Files Massive VoIP Lawsuit While Poised for T-Mobile Merger

February 28, 2020

By Laura Stotler - Virtual PBX Contributing Editor

Sprint has been on the VoIP litigation warpath again this month. The company, based in Overland Park, KS, filed a new lawsuit alleging that three telecommunications companies and two former employees stole patents and trade secrets related to VoIP.


The company named Charter Communications, Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable as well as former employees Paul Woelk and Craig Cowden as defendants in the suit. Bright House and Time Warner are now owned by

Charter under its Spectrum brand. The lawsuit alleges that the former employees disclosed trade secrets to Bright House shortly before they left Sprint and joined the rival telecom company.

The beef centers around confidential VoIP technologies, trade secrets and intellectual property, which the employees allegedly shared with the rival companies while they were still employed by Sprint, and brought with them after leaving. According to court documents, Charter was forced to notify Sprint after finding approximately 3,500 Sprint documents on Woelk’s Charter work computer. Woelk is currently vice president of business operations at Charter.

Sprint is arguing that the value of the information shared with the rival companies is in the billions, pointing to the “$100 billion-plus VoIP industry” as a benchmark. The company also points out that the VoIP networking industry and related technologies have grown and changed substantially since the time the IP and trade secrets were established. Sprint is arguing that the theft caused the company to lose customers, revenues, profits and future business.

Sprint has a history of litigation surrounding its VoIP technology and patents, and has previously filed suits against Comcast, Cox Communications and Cable One. In 2011, the company sued Time Warner Cable and others, charging they had used its VoIP technology without permission. Comcast ultimately paid Sprint $250 million to settle that suit.

Sprint previously extracted an $80 million patent settlement from Vonage in 2007, and sued a handful of small VoIP providers in 2008. Big River Telephone Co. was one of several small companies required to pay for a license for Sprint’s patents as a result of that round of litigation.

The new lawsuit was filed as Sprint is poised to merge with T-Mobile in a $26 billion acquisition. The merger has proven to be a major disruptor already, with T-Mobile reportedly laying off employees. The Communications Workers of America union predicts the merger will put an additional 30,000 jobs at risk once complete.


 




Edited by Maurice Nagle


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