First the good news: On Tuesday, a U.S. federal appeals court said it will hear oral arguments on April 24 on Vonage's request for a permanent stay of an injunction that was issued by a lower court on Friday. The appeals court late on Friday issued a temporary stay of the injunction that would prevent Vonage from signing up new customers.
A permanent stay could help keep Vonage in business while it awaits its appeal on the lower court's decision that it is infringing on Verizon patents.
And now the bad news: In the meantime, it looks like some cable companies are trying to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the patent case to steal some of Vonage's customers. Light Reading's Cable Digital News reports that Charter Communications launched a program April 4 to deliver same-day or next-day phone service installation for Vonage customers in its service areas. Charter has even set up a dedicated hotline for Vonage customers who might be ready to switch their service, the article said.
Om Malik at GigaOm on Tuesday pointed out in his blog that if other cable operators adopt a similar customer-poaching strategy Vonage could be in big trouble. He also noted that with Voange's valuation dropping steadily, the company is a good takeover candidate.
"At $250-to-$300 per subscriber, cable operators should seriously consider a bid," he wrote. "At those levels, the company will be valued at $550 million to $660 million, which is a premium over the current stock price, but still cheaper than spending millions on advertising and customer sign-ups."