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Packet 8 Patents

PR Newswire is carrying the 8×8 (EGHT) release about their new patent this morning, which Andy Abramson commented on yesterday.  The headline reads “8×8 Awarded Patent for Hosted IP-PBX Technology”, which is causing some confusion and a few howls of outrage.  The key word in that headline is “technology”, as it appears, upon reading the patent, that 8×8 has been awarded rights to some implementation methodologies for hosted IP PBXs.  The crux of it seems to be the application of object oriented programming technologies to the control and management of an IP PBX. 

I’m just a lowly geek, not a lawyer, but I do confess to being mystified at the idea that a common technique for decomposing and coding solutions is somehow patentable when applied to the domain of telephony. If these patents are upheld, however, they could have a chilling effect on a lot of innovation in this space.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Randy Charles Morin June 15, 2006, 7:03 am

    You know, it doesn't matter if they are upheld. They will threaten to sue and many will simply pay up, because it's too costly to fight. Look at RIM. The patent office said the patents were invalid and RIM still paid a $1/2 billion.

  • Mitch Brisebois June 15, 2006, 3:37 pm

    8×8 is an interesting company… They hold a ton of patents and design registrations (50+) and they also appear to offer product via their sister company packet8.net Are they patent trolls? don't know.

    From their past patents I would guess not. Consider patent #5,761,280 – which describes a method for using DTMF to navigate the internet… cutting edge, no? Maybe they just goofed up on that one.

    Have a look at another one of their patents also granted along with the PBX one (7,035,890) It seems tolay claim to the procedure commonly known as "multiplication"… here's the abstract –

    "An apparatus for multiplying and accumulating numeric quantities, including a multiplier for receiving the numeric quantities, with the multiplier having a sum output and a carry output. A first shift register has an input coupled to the sum output of the multiplier, and a second shift register has an input coupled to the carry output of the multiplier. An adder and third shift register are used to complete processing of the apparatus' arithmetic operations."

    OK – I'm a UI guy – not a tech geek… but isn't that just multiplication???

    Bottom line – it's not what you have as patent holdings – it's what you do with them that counts.

    For more exciting 8×8 patents reading, look them up at http://www.uspto.gov (note: some of their patents are assigned to 8×8, Inc others are 8.times.8, Inc)

    cheers
    Mitch

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