I laughed out loud when I saw this article in the New York Times called AT&T Is Latest to Sue Vonage Over Patent and also this other article in the Wall Street Journal. I laughed not because another teleco jumped in to sue Vonage, but because I was wondering what took AT&T so long to jump in for the the fun. You see back when I worked at the older and better AT&T I saw the Product Management plans for AT&T's IP Telephony product which I believe was called at the time Click2Dial. That would have been around 1999 or so and maybe even as early as 1998.
The plans were very complicated and involved a PC with a 2 phone setup. AT&T of course marketed it with our old narrow band product AT&T WorldNet which I believe to this day still has the same amount of subscribers as it did back then which was around 2.1 million. AT&T's product at the time was way ahead of itself relying on very very techie folks who also happened to use WorldNet (kind of an oxymoron wouldn't you say). I remember getting the plans because the Product Team was trying to find ways to cross sell the product with little marketing and I was running either our wireless bundled marketing campaigns or what we called eAT&T which was a strategy to try to get customers to sign up for LD and/or online care and billing via the internet. Needless to say, I don't remember ever dropping Click2Dial into any plans of mine because the target audience was so small and the product was so complicated back then.
AT&T had the plans and the product back then and it was widely known through out the halls of Basking Ridge NJ. So, while you normally would think I'd be gloating about another nail in the Vonage coffin, but even I a frequent Vonage basher has to wonder what took the new, new, new AT&T so long to figure out whether they should sue Vonage. Sure AT&T claimed they were negotiating with Vonage for 2 years but now they were forced to sue. Me, seems like somebody there decided it was better to get a piece of whatever is left before someone else puts Vonage out of business.