‘Patent Buster’ Attacks C2 Communications Patent

Scott Daniels | February 9, 2010

Two requests for reexamination have been granted against U.S. Patent No. 6,243,373 which broadly claims a method for routing a call between two telephones over a public computer network, a so-called “voice-over-Internet protocol.” The ‘373 patent is owned by C2 Communications which successfully enforced against the major telephone companies, among them AT&T, Verizon and Qwest.

One request was filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which identifies itself as a “patent buster” and which solicits contributions to challenge patents that unfairly restrict or burden public use of the Internet. EFF also asks the public for prior art to attack such patents. The PTO has concluded that EFF’s request raises a substantial new question of patentability (SNQ) regarding claims 1-8 and 13-18 of the ‘373 patent.

The second request, filed by PAETEC, was somewhat more successful – the PTO found three SNQs for all 24 claims in the ‘373 patent. C2 Communications had sued PAETEC late last year for infringement of the ‘373 patent. Two other defendants in that case have settled, but PAETEC appears to be determined to invalidate the ‘373 patent claims.

Since there is overlap between the prior art in the two reexaminations, it is likely that the PTO will merge them.

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