Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Infringement by RIM affirmed in BlackBerry case

In the action by NTP against RIM, the CAFC wrote on December 14:

"The judgment and the injunction are vacated, and the case is remanded to the district court for further proceedings. We also conclude that the district court correctly found infringement."

Although the first sentence might be construed as pro-RIM, the second sentence indicates that RIM will be having difficulties. The injunction had already been stayed, so the CAFC maintains the status quo of RIM selling Blackberry's in the US. However, an injunction in the future is possible. With all the prior outcry, especially from the US Congress, about the national security implications of the Blackberry, one suspects that there might be a solution (if infringement remains after remand) in which ongoing monetary damages are paid by RIM to NTP, with RIM otherwise not impeded from selling.

The remaining issue concerns the interpretation of a claim term, "originating processor," which claim construction might have an impact on five other claims. The CAFC said that since a different ruling on that particular claim element might change the outcome of the case, it remanded the case to the lower court to decide if the prior jury verdict should be overturned and lifted the injunction.

The legal part of the claim construction issue relates to the ongoing debate at the CAFC about the use of general purpose dictionaries in determining the meaning of claim terms. The debate became significant with the Texas Digital case, and is now being discussed in the pending en banc Phillips case [see my article in the January 2005 issue of Intellectual Property Today.] In the NTP v. RIM case, RIM (the defendant accused of infringement) argued that the definition of an "originating processor" should stick closely to the dictionary definition of the term "originating," in that such a processor would have to initiate the transmission of a message. Ironically, in most of these "Texas Digital" cases, it is the patentee who argues for the dictionary definition, which is usually broader than more technical definitions. In the NTP case, it is the accused infringer, not the patentee, who argues for the dictionary definition.

Trading was halted on RIM's stock pending the release of the decision. The stock price rose almost $9 from its opening price on the Nasdaq market following the release of the decision, but fell back after investors realized the full scope of the decision. Thus, the interplay of the stock price with the decision news shows the inability of investment people to understand quickly and correctly the scope of a legal decision in the patent area.

See articles by Richard Shim on CNET News and by Tom Krazit of IDG News.


Post a Comment

<< Home