RizWords – Daily Politics and Tech
Episode 26 – download now subscribe now

The from the Evans-Novak Report:

The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday morning upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion reminds conservative voters of one of President George W. Bush‘s successes — appointments to the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court. The decision is not a huge victory in practical terms, but it could conceivably mark the point at which pro-lifers stop being pushed backward in the courts.

In our ongoing coverage of the VONAGE CRAP story, we have four new headlines in the series.

Are the Verizon patents actually valid?

Thought we might get away without more Vonage news for at least one issue? Me too. Guess again. Here’s an analyst who says that the Verizon patents that Vonage was convicted of infringing upon may themselves be invalid. Dan Berniger suggests that the advances that Verizon patented had been widely discussed before Verizon filed. That’s prior art, and would be grounds for rejecting the patents. The trial judge didn’t want to hear testimony about the validity of patents; you’ll remember that the trial was very fast for a patent trial. Fighting to invalidate the patents would take time and money, two things that Vonage is a little short on.

For more about possible prior art on Verizon’s VoIP patents:
– read this article from Techdirt
– check out the article from Computerworld

Vonage “workarounds” no sure thing
Getting those patents tossed might be Vonage’s best shot. Remember how Vonage execs were talking right after the verdict about how they’d be able to work around Verizon’s patents? It turns out that might not be as simple as Vonage said. In a court filing late last week, Vonage reported that the workarounds–“even if feasible,” the filing said–would take months to implement. And even then, it’s possible that the court’s reading of the patents could be so broad that even the workaround might infringe.

For more information about the Vonage workarounds:
– see this piece from the Business VoIP Report
– read this PC World article
– read this article from CIO Today

Vonage warns of bankruptcy; VCs run for cover
Every public company in the U.S. has to file a Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A 10-K is basically a company’s annual report, except it’s not glossy, is very detailed and is submitted under oath. There’s a section where companies talk about all the challenges and all the possible negative factors they face in the coming year. So it’s really no surprise that Vonage’s 10-K mentions that there’s a real threat of bankruptcy. It’s not imminent, but given the last couple of months, it’s certainly prudent for investors to be told of the possibility. Venture capitalists, for their part, are taking a lesson from Vonage’s travails and are turning their attention away from carriers and toward VoIP equipment and software makers.

For more information about Vonage and VC fallout:
– read this article from Red Herring

Vonage still top VoIP carrier
The news isn’t all bad for Vonage. It’s still the leading consumer VoIP service in the U.S., according to figures tracked by ISP-Planet. At year-end 2006, Vonage had 2.2 million subscribers. Comcast Digital Phone had 1.9 million, Time Warner Digital Phone had 1.860 million, Skype (as of July 2005, so this is a very old figure) had 1.8 million paid customers, and Cablevision had 1.2 million customers. Everyone else was far, far behind, though ISP-Planet acknowledges that many service providers don’t report their numbers.

For more information about the U.S. consumer VoIP market:
– read this article from ISP Planet

And speaking of the ‘death of’ things… could this spell the Death of Digg?

MySpace takes on Google News and Digg

MySpace is going into the news business with a service that will scour the internet for news stories and let users vote on which ones receive the most exposure. — This approach blends elements of Google News and sites such as Digg and Netscape …

And in Google-is-better-than-you news:

On the same day that the news breaks that eBay is acquiring StumbleUpon for $40ish million, Google announces that they are building strikingly similar functionality into their Toolbar. Google (along with AOL) were reportedly in the running to acquire StumbleUpon until very recently.

The Google Toolbar now includes a dice icon. Click it and you’ll be taken to a new website that Google thinks you’ll find interesting based on your previous search queries.

This isn’t an exact duplicate of StumbleUpon functionality, which bases recommendations on your and other StumbleUpon users’ votes of sites. But the end result is the same – serendipitous discovery of new and interesting websites based on your core interests.

Google also has a widget that can be added to their personalized home page with recommended sites.

Om Malik says this is Google lashing out at StumbleUpon and eBay because they lost the deal. Given the timing, I tend to agree.

And in New Media News:

Does The Press Pick Presidents?
‘Scholar Leon V. Sigal observed three decades ago that one measure of a presidential campaign’s vitality prior to the nominating conventions was the number of full-time reporters assigned to it by the top-tier news organizations: the elite dailies especially (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal), the TV networks, the wires, and the newsweeklies.

‘Editorial resources being scarce, news organizations can’t cover every declared candidate full time, so whenever a senior editor at a newspaper or network assigns a reporter to a campaign, he votes the institution’s conviction that the candidate has a shot at the nomination. Whenever a news organization pulls its reporter from a candidate’s campaign, it cancels that vote of confidence.’ (Slate Magazine article).

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