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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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December 1, 2005

RIM Pushed to the Edge

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

(well, I couldn't say they were pushed to the rim, could I?)

RIM is fast running out of maneuver room. A federal judge has ruled that the company's preliminary settlement with NTP isn't enforceable, rejected a request to wait for final word from the USPTO and is moving to reinstate an injunction against BlackBerry service in the United States. My guess is that all of these actions could be appealed but it seems likely that RIM would rather settle than fight, even though the settlement costs could be quite high.

Findlaw has a PDF of the decision online. Mainstream news coverage from the NYTimes and AP wire story.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies


COMMENTS

1. Nudecybot on December 3, 2005 2:14 PM writes...

This feels like it is good old fashioned extortion. Is there anyone out there who believes this is a lobby group backed mission to stonewall a Canadian success story?

Admittedly I am biased as a Canadian but I just don't see how the situation could have come to this without some serious influence over the process by American business interests.

I mean- the issue of how valid the patent is seems to me a key issue. I don't understand why they can't wait for a proper review of the patent.

Hopefully someone can educate me one way or the other!

Permalink to Comment

2. drwex on December 5, 2005 1:02 PM writes...

The USPTO has already issued a preliminary ruling upholding the patents. It's possible they'll narrow the claims somewhat on final review, but it would be unheard-of for them to invalidate the patent at this point. I can't really guess what influences have been tried, but certainly the pervasiveness of Blackberry service within the Establishmant has been noted. Apparently they're called "crackberries" in DC because people can't live without them. So for a court to propose suspending service at all is pretty edgy.

Permalink to Comment

3. joe on December 5, 2005 1:27 PM writes...

The USPTO looks like it /will/ invalidate the NTP patents. I can't imagine that RIM will agree to pay a cent until that gets finalized, or it gets appealed to the max: post on the USPTO pre-final ruling against NTP

Permalink to Comment

4. Daniel Taylor on December 20, 2005 11:20 AM writes...

It's easy and popular to side with RIM on this issue, but if we take one step away, nothing seems that easy. In his Dec 1 decision, Judge Spencer acknowledged the PTO process and admitted that -- even if all of NTP's patents are overturned by the PTO -- that process may take years. NTP has the ability to appeal the PTO decisions, and that's a process somewhat independent of the U.S. District Court decision.

Judge Spencer has given both sides until February 1 to submit their final filings. RIM's most recent petition can be found at Patently-O(http://patentlaw.typepad.com/patent/RIMPetition.pdf).

If RIM prevails here, it will likely be because the company is spending tens of millions of dollars on this case. RIM's legal defense is fervent and exhaustive, and the company is now spending more on litigation than it is on R&D.

Permalink to Comment

5. Nudecybot on January 2, 2006 12:32 PM writes...

So all of this duly noted, who can tell me why the process of examining patent validity can possible take so long? Is seems like there is an extremely significant economic argument for getting this over with (one way or the other) unless you're a lawyer.

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