Friday, February 03, 2006

RIM Gains Momentum in Patent Disputes, Shutdown Fight

TechNewsWorld reports that "Research in Motion (RIM) won a key decision from a patent court in the United Kingdom and may get help from the U.S. government in avoiding an abrupt shutdown of its BlackBerry mobile e-mail service." According to the article, "In the UK, RIM said a patent court had ruled that patent claims made by a firm called InPro were not valid. InPro may appeal that ruling. The same technology was ruled to be ineligible for a patent late last month by a court in Germany."

Also, in the U.S., "RIM may have an unusual ally in the Justice Department, which is expressing concern about how a shutdown would be conducted. Government agencies would be exempt from any shutdown, as would private contractors for those agencies. But the Justice Department said in a court filing that a hearing may be needed to judge the full impact of turning the service off to determine the best course of action."

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney believed a settlement the Department of Justice is floating that "new subscribers would not be allowed to sign up for the original BlackBerry service but could be offered the work-around version RIM is said to be developing, while existing customers would remain on the current technology, with RIM paying a royalty to NTP for each existing customer," might be likely but still a year away.

Dulaney said, "There are still a lot of moving pieces that have to fall into place and it's going to take time for that to happen."

Regarding similar disputes, such as the one between Good Technology and Visto, telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said, "This technology was in the enterprise and tucked away from sight for a long time. Now that it's hitting the mainstream, the similarities among the technologies are coming to light and everyone's realizing how enormous the potential market is going to be."

Which means the lawyers are taking notice too....