Vonage, AT&T Resolve VoIP Branding Suit

by Colin C. Haley

The companies avoid going to court over trade infringement charges related to AT&T CallVantage.

A trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Vonage against AT&T has been resolved, officials at both companies confirmed today.

Last year, the broadband telephony upstart sued the venerable carrier, charging Ma Bell's Voice over IP service infringed on its brand.

The action claimed AT&T's CallVantage offering, and some of the Web sites registered to support it, sound too similar to Vonage's corporate name and could confuse consumers.

"It has been settled," Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz told internetnews.com. "Each party came to an agreement on terms."

As a result of the pact, Schulz said AT&T's corporate moniker will precede the name of its VoIP service in marketing and advertising materials. So, the company will push "AT&T CallVantage," but not "CallVantage."

Other agreements were struck on domain names, she said. The settlement, which Schulz described as "amicable," was hammered out over several months.

AT&T spokesman Gary Morgenstern confirmed that the suit had been "closed out," but declined to discuss details.

This was the first time Vonage filed suit to protect its brand. The privately held, venture-backed firm has spent significant sums on advertising and marketing.

The effort is working. Last month, the Edison, N.J., firm passed the 400,000 subscriber mark and estimates that it adds about 30,000 new customers per month.

Meanwhile, AT&T continues to step up efforts to sell AT&T CallVantage. Yesterday, it began marketing a customized version of the service to small office/home office customers.

The Bedminster, N.J., telecom first announced VoIP plans in December 2003 and started rolling out service to residential customers in late March as part of a strategy to retain customers it was losing to regional carriers and wireless providers.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Feb 9th 2005