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Court Set to Hear Vonage Patent Appeal on April 24

A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday set April 24 for hearing oral arguments on Vonage Holdings request to carry on its business normally while it appeals a finding it infringed Verizon Communications Internet phone patents.

Last Friday, a lower court said it would bar Vonage from adding new customers to its Internet phone service, but said it would delay entering the ruling until April 12 as the amount of an additional bond still had to be determined.

Vonage immediately asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to temporarily stay that injunction until the appeals court hears its request for a permanent stay. That was granted late on Friday -- a move Verizon derided as "utterly unnecessary."

For Vonage, this latest order means it has at least two weeks to add new customers. But the appellate panel may decide to uphold the lower court's decision and not grant Vonage a permanent stay while it appeals the finding it infringed on three of Verizon's patents.

"They definitely have until the 24th to keep on adding new customers," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Rebecca Arbogast.

The court of appeals has asked Verizon to make a written submission by this Friday. Vonage is to file its reply by April 17.

Arbogast said the appeals court probably could issue a decision the same day as the oral arguments.

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