A new legal ruling could allow cable operator Verizon to sue Skype and Yahoo.

Verizon to take on VoIP market?

Following a recent victory over rival internet provider Vonage, a broad legal ruling from a US judge could pave the way for US cable operator Verizon to take on VoIP providers such as Skype, EarthLink and Yahoo in court.

ZDNet reports that in the defence of its voice over internet protocol patents, Verizon has been granted rights that are far wider-reaching than had been anticipated. The stipulations have proved so vast that it could shake up the entire VoIP market.

"I believe that anyone offering a VoIP service could be a potential Verizon target," Florida-based lawyer Joel Rosenblatt stated. "These patents appear to be so broad that an argument could be made against just about any service that allows people to make calls from the Internet to a regular phone network."

Vonage was last month ordered to pay $58 million to Verizon after a Virginia judge ruled that three of its patents had been infringed.

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