Google named in visual voicemail suit

As if the hullabaloo surrounding Android's dropping of the Bluetooth API from its SDK wasn't enough turmoil for one week. Now Google has been named in a lawsuit by an inventor of visual voicemail, according to this Reuters report. Turns out the inventor, Judah Klausner, recently settled suits with AT&T and Apple, so he's decided Google, Verizon and a host of others are now fair game.

Klausner holds a patent, received in 1992, for "visual voicemail," or applying a graphical way of interacting with voicemail messages that allow it to be used like e-mail. Now that mobile phone makers and carriers are rolling out unified messaging tools on their latest phones (presumably Google's Android has such capabilities), he's forcing them to license the technology or go to court. And he's had some success. In June, Apple, which offers visual voicemail in its iPhone, together with AT&T and eBay, which owns Skype, settled a similar patent suit filed last December by Klausner.

Verizon is already fighting back, however. Anticipating the suit, it filed its own suit two weeks ago aimed at voiding Klausner's patent:

"We anticipated Klausner's action," Verizon spokesman Jim Smith said in a statement. "We are seeking a declaration that Klausner's visual voicemail patent is invalid and that Verizon's system does not infringe the patent in any event."

Verizon offers a mobile phone called Voyager built by LG Electronics that features visual voicemail. Other firms named in the suit include LG Electronics, Comverse Technology, Citrix Systems and Embarq Corp.

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