Did Vonage Infringe on Patents?

Voice over IP leader Vonage is being sued by a Sprint Nextel subsidiary for allegedly infringing on seven patents.

The legal action, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas, comes as Edison, N.J.-based Vonage is prepping for one of the most anticipated IPOs in years.

Sprint Nextel also filed a similar suit against a smaller VoIP provider: Voiceglo , a subsidiary of theglobe.com.

The patents in question cover a series of innovations that enable voice and data packet processing and delivery.

The patents were originally secured by Sprint Communications L.P. before the merger of long-distance carrier Sprint and wireless operator Nextel.

“Sprint indicated its willingness to discuss potential license agreements that would permit these companies to lawfully use Sprint’s intellectual property,” Debra Peterson, a Sprint spokeswoman, told internetnews.com. “Sprint filed this action only after numerous efforts to informally resolve this dispute proved unsuccessful.”

Sprint Nextel is seeking a court order to prevent Vonage, Voiceglo and theglobe.com from using the technology, as well as unspecified monetary damages.

A Vonage spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. It’s unclear how, if at all, the lawsuit could affect Vonage’s IPO plans.

Although Vonage has been a venture capital darling, going public would give it a war chest to supercharge its international expansion. Vonage recently cracked the 1 million subscriber mark; most of those users are in the United States and Canada.

As part of all IPO filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, companies must disclose potential risks to their business, including intellectual property lawsuits.

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