Skype enters 2011 with lawsuit from Gradient

Katie Gatto · December 27, 2010 · Short URL:

A patent infringement lawsuit by Gradient Enterprises threatens Skype's supernode setup for VOIP

Patent suits seem to be an inevitable part of doing business. Smart phones can't take a step in any direction, without walking into a patent-related lawsuit. Even industry giants, including Google and Facebook, can't escape them.

Right before the end of the year, one more suit has been filed. This time, it's targeting Skype.

Skype has been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Gradient Enterprises, a non-practicing entity. The suit is in relation to U.S. patent no. 7,669,207. The patent is called, “Method For Detecting, Reporting And Responding To Network Node-Level Events And a System Thereof." The suit was filed on Dec. 23, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.

The patent in question, which was issued in February of 2010, is summarised as “A system for detecting, reporting, and responding to network node-level occurrences on a network-wide level includes one or more first mobile agents, each of the one or more first mobile agents is hosted by one of a plurality of nodes in the network”.  This system does bear some resemblance to Skype's supernode system, which was recently explained in a post by Disruptive Telephony.

Skype's supernode system was recently called to attention when the service went down for several hours, due to supernode failures. The company worked to create ‘mega-supernodes’ to fix the problem and said it  plans to compensate paying users for the outage. No specifics of the compensation have been released. Ironically, the company announced that the service was stable again, the same day that the suit was filed.

Gradient Enterprises, which is based in Rochester NY, will be represented by Donald W. O'Brien, a partner at the firm of Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP. Mr. O'Brien specialises in intellectual property litigation. The case will be presided over by David G. Larimer, a Rochester-born federal judge, appointed by Ronald Regan in 1987.

Skype has not tweeted anything about the suit. They have also yet to respond to a request for comment.

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