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February 2, 2006

Developments in the RIM Blackberry Patent Infringement Case

The latest is that RIM will argue against the possibility (read more like probability) of an injunction that will shut down the service. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued preliminary rulings against the patents held by NTP which are at the heart of the dispute.  Since the USPTO rulings are not final, however, the District Court judge will not consider this parallel action to delay a ruling in the case.  In prior statements, the judge has indicated that he wants to bring this case to a conclusion.  RIM has lost all of the appeals so far.

The wild card in the case is that RIM has a workaround that would not use the disputed patents.  The only problem is no one knows what that is, although there is some discussion about loading new software onto servers and each device, or some variations on that process.  Even this scenario doesn't sound anything close to an easy solution for either service providers or customers. 

Consider that the United States government relies heavily on Blackberry services.  NTP has indicated that it would allow RIM to keep providing services to government officials.  RIM has said that segregating one customer group would be difficult to implement and the United States DOJ filed a brief with the District Court saying just that, arguing against the imposition of an injunction.  NTP has asked for a 30 grace period to avoid inconveniencing customers.  The DOJ has said at least 90 days would be necessary to protect government users.

In another patent development unlikely to have an effect on the case, the English High Court ruled in favor of RIM on a dispute with InPro over patents in Europe.  A German court had ruled against the InPro patents days earlier.

Details are here and here.

February 2, 2006 | Permalink

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