VOIP-Pal Expands Patent Infringement Campaign, Suing Amazon, Google, and Apple

After suing Facebook for patent infringement over WhatsApp, VOIP-Pal sued Amazon, Google, and Apple a few days later for patent infringement over devices using Amazon’s Alexa; Google’s Hangouts, Duo, Google Home and Google Home Devices; and Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage respectively. All of the suits were filed in the Texas Western District Court and Hudnell Law Group represents VOIP-Pal in all of the cases. All suits allege infringement for systems that allow voice communication between two participants.

VOIP-Pal sued Amazon, Google and Apple for infringing U.S. Patent No. 10,218,606 (the “’606 patent”) entitled “Producing Routing Messages For Voice Over IP Communications.” The plaintiff, repeating from the Facebook suit, states that it has “provided significant improvements to communications technology by the invention of novel methods, processes and apparatuses that facilitate communications across and between internet protocol based communication systems and networks, such as internally controlled systems and external networks…including the classification and routing thereof.”

Digifonica, a subsidiary of VOIP-Pal, spent at least $15 million “researching, developing, and testing a communication solution capable of seamlessly integrating a private voice-over-IP (VOIP) communication network with an external network …by bridging the disparate protocols, destination identifiers and addressing schemes used in the two networks.” The resulting patent “improved functioning, classification, routing and reliability of Voice-over-IP (VOIP) and IP-based transmission of video, photographs, messages and mixed media, as well as improved interoperability of IP-based private communication networks with external networks.” VOIP-Pal has accused the tech giants of infringing upon this patented improvement.

VOIP-Pal alleged that Amazon infringes VOIP-Pal’s patent through its devices, software and platform for “Amazon Calling and Messaging System” for Amazon Alexa and Alexa For Business devices. These devices include Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Connect, Amazon Tap, 4th Generation and later Amazon Fire devices, and mobile phones and tablets with the Alexa app. Amazon’s Calling and Messaging System “allows Amazon Alexa Calling Devices to initiate a call or a voice message between a first participant, and a second participant, using its system.” The plaintiff states that Amazon continues to infringe despite the notice. VOIP-Pal also claims that Amazon induces infringement via third-parties and customers using these infringing products.

Google allegedly infringes the patent through its messaging services “Hangouts” and “Duo,” which “allow users of communication devices to communicate using text messages, images, video and audio with users of other communication devices.” Both Hangouts and Duo have platform-specific apps and web software, browser ad-ons and plugins “that operate in conjunction with a collection of servers and gateways connected over a wide area network.” Google also operates a communication service called Google Home which “allows users of smart speaker devices to communicate with users of other smart speaker devices and with mobile devices; these devices include Google Home and Google Nest products, which “operate in conjunction with a collection of servers and gateways connected over a wide area network.” Devices using Hangouts or Duo, as well as Google Home and Google Home Devices can communicate between a first participant and a second participant; each participant’s device is “associated with one or more network elements,” as specified in the patent. Additionally, the “use of first participant attributes, including a first participant contact list and information stored on Google servers, is used at least for processing a second participant identifier and/or for determining first participant account status.” VOIP-Pal similarly claims that Google continued to infringe despite being notified of its infringement.

Apple has allegedly infringed the ’606 patent through its FaceTime service. “Apple manufactures devices related to communication, and particular, supports an audio/video-over-IP platform (Facetime) that includes Apple desktop computers, laptops, tablets, watches and mobile devices.” FaceTime allows Apple devices “to initiate an audio/video call or an audio-only call between a first participant and a second participant.” Additionally, a “first participant profile (e.g., a contact list specific to the initiating party) is utilized in the determination of how a call is routed to a second participant’s device.” Much like with the other suits, VOIP-Pal states that by normal user use of Apple’s devices, a user will infringe the patent. 

In all of these suits, VOIP-Pal has sought a declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, an award for damages, to declare the case exceptional in order to be awarded costs and fees, pre- and post- judgment interest, and other relief as determined by the court.