Vonage: Fishing in Troubled Waters

by Moshe Yudkowsky

In the good news, Vonage won a permanent injunction that allows it to sign up new subscribers. Vonage stock rose 29% on the news.

In the bad news, Vonage admitted a while back that they can't work around Verizon's patents. I admit that the inventiveness of the Verizon patents — one looks at first glance as if though it's a simple database lookup — continues to escape me.

But then there's the fishing in troubled waters, which worries me even more than the patent dispute. My service provider, ViaTalk, sent me email a couple of weeks back; they touted their own service as an alternative to people worried about Vonage's problems.

Fishing in troubled waters rubs me the wrong way, and it's scarcely a pro-survival strategy for the industry as a whole. Instead of rallying behind Vonage with a letter campaign to elected officials, ViaTalk chose to poach Vonage's customers. It was the kind of email that makes you want to wash your hands after touching the keyboard. I'm highly tempted to dump ViaTalk entirely.