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Posts from March 2006

Skype, Zennstrom, Friis Et Al Sued for RICO Violations

Anyone can sue anybody, and a lawsuit does not imply guilt but I've been informed that in documents fled in the U.S. District Court's CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA (Western Division - Los Angeles) CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:06-cv-00391-FMC-E that back on January 20th StreamCast Networks, best known for their Peer to Peer technology, called Morpheus, filed a RICO suit against Skype Technologies SA, Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis, BlueMoon OU (the company that reportedly did a lot of the development work on Skype) alleging RICO violations. RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Here's the information that can help those interested learn more about the case:

StreamCast Networks Inc v. Skype Technologies S A et al

Assigned to: Judge Florence-Marie Cooper

Referred to: Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick

Cause: 18:1962 Racketeering (RICO) Act

Date Filed: 01/20/2006

Jury Demand: Plaintiff

Nature of Suit: 470 Racketeer/Corrupt Organization

Jurisdiction: Federal Question

Plaintiff

StreamCast Networks Inc represented by Charles S Baker

Porter and Hedges

1000 Main Street, 36th Floor

Houston, TX 77002-6336

713-226-6676

Email: cbaker@porterhedges.com

LEAD ATTORNEY

ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

David L Burgert

Porter and Hedges

1000 Main Street, 36th Floor

Houston, TX 77002-6336

US

713-226-6676

LEAD ATTORNEY

ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

David Martin Halbreich

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

300 S Grand Ave, 22nd Fl

Los Angeles, CA 90071-3132

213-612-2500

LEAD ATTORNEY

ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

James N Penrod

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Spear St Twr

300 South Grand Avenue, 22nd Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90070-3132

213-612-2500

Email: jpenrod@morganlewis.com

LEAD ATTORNEY

ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

V.

Defendant

Skype Technologies S A

Defendant

Niklas Zennstrom

Defendant

Janus Friis

Defendant

Kazaa BV

Defendant

Joltid Ltd

Defendant

Joltid Ou Blastoise Ltd

Defendant

Bluemoon Ou

Defendant

LA Galiote BV

Defendant

Indigo Investment BV

Defendant

Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc

Defendant

Sharman Networks Ltd

Defendant

Kevin Bermeister

Defendant

John Does

1-10 inclusive

Date Filed

#

Docket Text

01/20/2006 1 COMPLAINT against defendants Kazaa BV, Joltid Ltd, Joltid Ou Blastoise Ltd, Bluemoon Ou, LA Galiote BV, Indigo Investment BV, Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc, Sharman Networks Ltd, Kevin Bermeister, John Does 1-10 inclusive, Skype Technologies S A, Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis.(Filing fee $ 250 paid) Jury Demanded. , filed by plaintiff StreamCast Networks Inc.(pj, ) (Entered: 01/27/2006)

01/20/2006

20 DAY Summons Issued re Complaint - (Discovery), Complaint - (Discovery)[1] as to Kazaa BV, Joltid Ltd, Joltid Ou Blastoise Ltd, Bluemoon Ou, LA Galiote BV, Indigo Investment BV, Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc, Sharman Networks Ltd, Kevin Bermeister, John Does, Skype Technologies S A, Niklas Zennstrom, Janus Friis. (pj,) (Entered: 01/27/2006)

01/20/2006

2 CERTIFICATION of Interested Parties filed by Plaintiff StreamCast Networks Inc. (pj, ) (Entered: 01/27/2006)

01/20/2006

FAX number for Attorney Charles S Baker, David L Burgert is 713-226-6276. (pj,) (Entered: 01/27/2006)

01/20/2006

FAX number for Attorney David Martin Halbreich, James N Penrod is 213-612-2501. (pj, ) (Entered: 01/27/2006)

03/13/2006

PREPARED ORDER RE TRANSFER Pursuant to General Order 224 (Related Case) by Clerk; related to CV 01-8541 SVW (FMOx). (rn, ) (Entered: 03/13/2006)


ZingoTel Sues Shaw Cable in Canada over VoIP Ads

Check out this story about Canada's Shaw Cable being sued by ZingoTel for not allowing the ZingoTel ads to run on the cable network.

Interesting. As a case in point when AT&T rolled out CallVantage in the USA they made a very concerted effort to make the cable operators their friends.

To me, blocking the running of an ad, for anything short of violating what is called Standards and Practice is silly. If Shaw has a better product people will buy it. If Zingo (or Vonage) or anyone else wants to pay for ads then don't let envy or greed be the deciding factor. Besides, if the courts side with the complaintants Shaw will likely end up having to insure they don't enforce their QoS rules on ZingoTel customers and pay out in both cash and adverts as part of the damages.  To me that would be the way to settle it. Not a lot of cash, just commercials.



Martin on Yahoo's New Messenger

Seems pal Martin Geddes is all buggered out about the Yahoo Voice Messenger install process in the UK about it requiring Microsoft Internet Explorer. Ouch.

I have to beleive this IE related issue is either a BT issue or a temporary problem given that "Rock Star" Jeff Bonforte of Yahoo, the product manager for Messenger, and Brad Garlinghouse, the Yahoo VP overseeing it all, have told me a Mac version is due out and that the Mac is being taken very seriously. IE on the Mac is version 5.2 and no longer supported by Microsoft, with Firefox and Safari, along with Camino or Mozilla being the browsers that work best.

I also wonder where the community integration is. Martin isn't wrong, but my guess is, like the Mac version and Christmas, it's coming.

As for Martin's complaint about the lack of being able to access Yahoo 360, I went into my accoount and sent him an invite to see if it's a global or local issue.

Stuart also has a dissenting point of view.


SightSpeed In The News

Agency client SightSpeed was interviewed by Ken Camp and featured in the Realtime VoIP Community interview series.

Ken spoke with CEO, Peter Csathy, and really captured the essence of what SightSpeed has to offer. A few hours following the interview Ken and I had Speed Call (my nickname for using SightSpeed). Here I was, sitting in the Hyatt Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, using a T-Mobile WiFi connection and Ken was in his Olympia Washington home office. The quality was super and we had a blast talking about the ways to make use of it.

Ken is becoming one of my favorite bloggers. His writing style is engaging and his insight from years of experience and now as a Network Security Director for the entire State of Washington gives him the chops to be right on...Give him a read, not only about SightSpeed but about VoIP in general.


Yahoo Messenger and Andy In the Mercury News

The San Jose Mercury News' Jessie Seyfer is one of my favorite telecom beat reporters. Her story today has me quoted on the new release of Yahoo Messenger with Voice.

One of the quotes she used `'With this deployment, Yahoo becomes the rooster in the henhouse for the partners.'' is something that everyone has to realize is not an if, but a when. Yahoo, with their community is lot more portable than a telco is to the customer. When a person moves they can leave the carrier, be it landline or cell. But their Yahoo ID (for identity) is like a Social Security number and it goes with them as it's very portable. That means the value to Yahoo on the books per customer is likely worth more than to a telco long term, as long as they can keep the consumer engaged and active.

Jessie also quoted me this way when asked how I view the Yahoo offering versus Skype: ``If you're Skype, and Yahoo comes out with offerings tied to their
content, that leaves Skype outside,'' he said. ``To offer ringtones,
Skype has to go out and acquire licensing rights, where Yahoo has
already established partnerships for music, video, and audio.''



The point about already licensed rights for things like ringtone and ringback tones as well as Yahoo's partnerships with entertainment properties and things like sports fantasy leagues linked to conference calling is huge. This is what builds Wall Street support because it's recurring revenues in growth sectors that already have metrics. It should be rather easy for Yahoo's Investor Relations team to present those kinds of comparisons and show what it means to their balance sheets and income statements year over year. If Yahoo smartly negotiates exclusive content deals or limited windows of use type relationships from a promotion standpoint they win over Skype simply because Skype doesn't have, and thus can't match all the other inventory to package up together that Yahoo, as a ad driven portal play has to offer to an entertainment company. Besides, Yahoo can also point out how eBay fuels the secondary market of resold (i.e. used/pre-owned) CD's home videos and DVDs which takes cash away from the studios and distribution companies while Yahoo plays a much greater role in driving first time, new in the package sales. At the end of the day who has more to offer the rightsholder? It's Yahoo.

We also talked about how Yahoo makes money, something that didn't make the story. First their is the huge gross profit in the DIDs. Like over $2.00 a month, not including Yahoo's administrative costs for it. We also talked about the concept of breakage. That's where consumers pay up front in the pre-paid model, but don't use their minutes right away, but over a period of time (or never at all).

Lastly we talked about the Dialpad acquisition and what a masterful stroke that was to obtain the service that already has VOIP LCR (least cost routing) and anti-fraud detection. Telephony is a fraudsters paradise and Yahoo made sure upfront they can offer an almost fraud-proof, minute arbitrage ready product wen they came out with it. That move, sometime last year was pure genius, as it allowed them to rapidly and safely get into the game.



Relay The Call Please

A Fenway Park Bleacher Bum tipped me off to a new feature from Sprint that goes into the "gee, we never thunk about that Jethro" department of great thinking on Sprint's end, and a wonderful move by the folks who work on Asterisk.

Basically with Sprint's new $5.00 a month plan to call home all you want, you can via an Asterisk server and a Sipura ATA 3000 make unlimited calls on your unlimited VoIP long distance plan. How it works is described here.

What does this mean...well for starters since all calls, both LD and local, can go out over the IP VOIP line, you can now forget about making LD calls on your cell phone and buy a local calling area plan and get more minutes. Secondly, for International you just lowered your costs significantly. Third and most importantly, you have more control over where calls can go and how they get there.