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November 30, 2005

RIM Down

Research in Motion (RIM) was dealt a double blow today in its attempts to settle its infringement fiasco with patent holder NTP. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer "finds the parties do not have a valid and enforceable settlement". RIM had hoped that a half-page term sheet signed by both parties in March, allegedly settling the dispute for $450 million, was legally binding. That supposed deal fell apart in June. Neither RIM nor NTP have disclosed details of that tentative settlement agreement or why it broke down.

Judge Spender also denied RIM's motion to stay proceedings pending reexamination of NTP patents. "Valid patents would be rendered meaningless if an infringing party were allowed to circumvent the patents' enforcement by incessantly delaying and prolonging court proceedings, which have already resulted in a finding of infringement," Spencer wrote in his ruling.

RIM generates about 70% of its revenue from the U.S. sales of its Blackberry wireless email. RIM has said it had a work-around to infringement, but neither the specifics, nor that service, have been revealed.

RIM is likely to settle the case rather than risk an injunction, which is the next step in court proceedings. The price tag for settlement now is speculated to reach as high as $1 billion.

Trading of RIM's shares on the Canadian TSX and U.S. NASDAQ stock exchanges were halted prior to the decision.

NTP is a Virginia-based privately-held patent holding company.

NTP first filed suit against RIM in 2001. After district court ruling in 2003, granting an injunction against RIM for infringement, but staying its enforcement pending appeals, RIM has lost every appeal it has filed, including one with the Supreme Court. The case is back in Virginia district court for the deathblow.

So far, RIM has been mum on today's ruling.

Posted by Patent Hawk at November 30, 2005 10:30 AM | Litigation


[somewhat unlikely] hypothetical: RIM doesn't settle and doesn't get their alternate technology in place in time, the injunction to shut down the BlackBerry network moves forward, and millions of BlackBerry users in the U.S. are out of luck.

repercussions: millions of Americans suddenly feel the pain of our our patent system at a very personal level, and their outrage inspires meaningful patent reform.

Anyone care to beg our northern neighbors to take one on the nose for the good of everyone?

Posted by: joey5 at November 30, 2005 11:25 AM

Yeah, a "meaningful patent reform" would allow
any large manufacturer or well-funded upstart to take any patented invention they like and produce it on scale without ever paying a dime to original inventors and patent holders.

I guess Bell must be pretty lucky to live in the 19th century. With this kind of "patent reform" in place Western Union would just take his invention and start producing it on scale, and Bell himself would live the rest of his life in poverty and die under the bridge...

Wonderful proposal, very clever...
In the spirit of true democracy and freedom...

Posted by: small guy at November 30, 2005 11:55 AM

small guy said: "With this kind of 'patent reform' in place Western Union would just take his invention and start producing it on scale, and Bell himself would live the rest of his life in poverty and die under the bridge..."

Do you really believe this? I'm sure both Antonio Meucci and Elisha Gray both probably died under a bridge somewhere. They aren't here to give us a bit of a history lesson, so we'll have to consult wikipedia instead:


I'm really glad you brought up the telephone -- perfect example of how the patent system does NOT work, is NOT fair, and rewards the WRONG thing.

What do you want to talk about next, the Wrights and the airplane or Edison and the light bulb?

Posted by: joey5 at November 30, 2005 2:05 PM

Patent system DOES work !

Or, at least, it used to work relatively well until PTO was flooded with junk patent applications from the likes of MicroShit and other big technology pirates.

I would suggest some more serious reading about the early history of Bell's invention:


Wikipedia articles are annoyingly biased,
especially when patent-related matters are discussed...

Posted by: small guy at December 1, 2005 7:11 AM

Hey Small Guy, reality itself is biased. You should boycott it.

Posted by: Robert at December 5, 2005 9:23 PM

In a way, I do...

But thinking of Wikipedia articles as the ones describing "reality" is a bit generous for them...

Wikipedia, of course, is a lot more objective than Slashdot, but still...

Posted by: small guy at December 6, 2005 8:01 AM