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March 02, 2011

Company Files Lawsuit to Protect VoIP Equipment Patent

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

In any situation, it is important for a company to protect its intellectual property. When that property has to do with VoIP equipment, the potential loss in revenue is enough to inspire a lawsuit to protect patents and other assets.

According to this release, such a lawsuit has been filed by Miele Law Group PC and Cooley Manion Jones LLP, on behalf of their client Bear Creek Technologies, Inc. The lawsuit was filed on February 22, 2011 in the Eastern District of Virginia against 23 defendants. Bear Creek Technologies, in filing the suit, was trying to protect its patent for VoIP equipment.

Named defendants included such companies as RCN Corporation, Verizon Communications, Vonage, AT&T, Time-Warner Cable, Comcast Corporation, T-Mobile USA, Charter Communications (News - Alert), Cox Communications, Qwest Communications and CenturyLink.

The suit alleges that each of these companies has infringed upon Bear Creek’s patent entitled: "System for Interconnecting Standard Telephony Equipment to Internet Protocol Networks.” This patent was filed in 1996 and serves as a visionary paradigm shift from the infrastructure used at that time by the telecommunications industry.

With the rise in prominence of the Internet in the mid 1990s, technologies were developed that would allow consumers to use computers to place long distance telephone calls by using the Internet instead of the traditional telephone line. By using VoIP equipment to make calls instead of the public switched telephone network, long-distance charges could be avoided.

While this change appealed to consumers in terms of cost, telecommunications companies also appreciated the economic impact the development presented – the potential to lose revenue. As a result, tensions developed between providers of standard switching technologies and those who were promoting the value of the newly arrived VoIP technologies.

As many saw VoIP equipment and technology as an alternative to standard telephony equipment and infrastructure, a different paradigm was envisioned by Bear Creek Technologies founder, Joe Thompson. He envisioned an environment where VoIP would actually cooperate with existing standard telephony equipment, as well as with the switching and trunking infrastructure that was already in place.

Thompson applied for a patent in early 1996 to memorialize such novel ideas during a time when telephone companies were spending millions of dollars each year to manage and deploy telephone trunking and PSTN infrastructure. It is this patent that Thompson is trying to protect with this latest lawsuit.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Charles West

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