Embattled VoIP operator Vonage has launched a national campaign to “raise awareness of the importance of consumer choice”.

But the launch of a new website, freetocompete.com, and the full page ads in US newspapers, smack more of a desperate attempt to save its bacon.

Vonage faces the very real threat of closure after being found guilty of infringing on VoIP patents owned by Verizon. The internet telephony company recently won a stay of injunction allowing it to keep signing up subscribers whilst a decision is made on its future.

Jeffrey Citron, Vonage’s chairman, chief strategist and interim chief executive officer, said, “We think this issue warrants national attention because when competition is stifled, consumers literally pay the price. Vonage is the target today, but what other innovative companies might be next?”

Vonage’s education of consumers revolves around the tagline “can you patent an orange?” and argues that a patent on an orange would not necessarily mean the patentee also owned the patent on the orange tree, or the ground the tree grew in.

With its advert, Vonage is trying to draw attention to companies seeking overly broad interpretations on patents “to prevent competitors from bringing innovative services to the marketplace.”

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