On November 26th, secure cloud communications provider Ribbon Communications announced it would continue to enforce its intellectual property rights in the face of what it called “baseless attacks” by its UK-based cloud competitor Metaswitch Networks. Ribbon decried a recent antitrust lawsuit filed against it by Metaswitch and charged its competitor with continuing to infringe upon Ribbon’s patent claims despite earlier jury verdicts in district court which found that Metaswitch was infringing upon those asserted claims.
Ribbon Communications’ announcement follows a lawsuit filed by Metaswitch Networks on November 19th in the Southern District of New York. In the complaint, Metaswitch charged Ribbon with engaging in unlawful exclusionary conduct to acquire and maintain monopoly power and alleged that Ribbon’s exclusionary conduct caused substantial harm to competition, consumers and Metaswitch. Metaswitch asserted causes for action under the Sherman Act, the Lanham Act and New York State general business law.
“It is disappointing that Metaswitch is attempting to relitigate claims that it already lost in federal court,” said Ribbon CEO Franklin “Fritz” Hobbs. “Ribbon will not be deterred by these actions, and we look forward to having Ribbon’s intellectual property rights vindicated and Metaswitch finally paying for its misappropriation of Ribbon technology.”
Ribbon’s predecessor company Genband US had filed a patent infringement suit against Metaswitch in the Eastern District of Texas back in January 2014. In January 2016, a jury verdict entered in the case awarded Ribbon nearly $8.17 million in reasonable royalties after proving that Metaswitch had infringed upon claims asserted from seven patents held by Ribbon. Those patents include:
- U.S. Patent No. 6791971, titled Method and Apparatus for Providing a Communications Service, for Communication and for Extending Packet Network Functionality. It claims a method for providing a communications service that enables toll-free calling over a packet network such as Internet protocol (IP) or asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) networks.
- U.S. Patent No. 7047561, titled Firewall for Real-Time Internet Applications. It covers a firewall for IP packets carrying data for a real-time Internet application such as voice over IP (VoIP) in a way that provides the necessary speed for real-time applications without sacrificing system security.
- U.S. Patent No. 7995589, titled Controlling Voice Communications Over a Data Network. It discloses a method of communicating over a data network in a way that enhances voice quality associated with call sessions over data networks.
A few months after Genband US won its infringement claims in the Eastern Texas jury verdict, a separate jury verdict in Eastern Texas issued in March 2016 found that Genband didn’t infringe upon claims of six patents asserted by Metaswitch. Further, the jury verdict found that Genband had proven the invalidity of asserted claims of three Metaswitch patents. Then in September 2016, the Eastern Texas court entered an opinion which upheld the jury verdict’s earlier finding that Metaswitch infringed upon Genband’s asserted patent claims and denied all of Metaswitch’s defenses raised at trial, in post-trial briefing and at a subsequent bench trial. The ruling left Genband free to seek additional damages for Metaswitch’s sale of infringing products, including session border controllers, universal media gateways and integrated softswitches, in addition to the $8.17 million reasonable royalty awarded by the jury. Genband had also announced that it would seek enhanced damages for willful infringement of its asserted patent claims.
This April, months after Genband and Sonus merged to form Ribbon Communications, Ribbon announced that it had filed another suit for patent infringement against Metaswitch in Eastern Texas. That suit sought both enhanced damages for willful patent infringement as well as damages for misleading statements made by Metaswitch to the market regarding the earlier Genband lawsuit, including statements made by Metaswitch regarding products which it said it redesigned but still allegedly infringed upon the asserted patent claims.
Along with the patent litigation ongoing in U.S. district court, Ribbon announced that it had also filed suit against Metaswitch in Texas state court alleging that Metaswitch has orchestrated a campaign to misappropriate Ribbon’s trade secrets; a trial in that case is set for April 2019.