Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Judge Spencer says no NTP/RIM settlement; injunction next?

Judge Spencer in EDVa determined that there was no valid settlement between NTP and RIM in the BlackBerry infringement case, a bad result for RIM. The judge also declined to wait for the result of re-examination proceedings at the USPTO, also a bad result for RIM (the initial determinations at the USPTO had favored RIM).

The next step would be an injunction against RIM, which could dramatically affect BlackBerry operations in the US. There are at least 3 ways BlackBerry operations might continue:

#1. RIM and NTP do a new deal.
#2. RIM designs around the claims of the NTP patents, so that the impact of an injunction would be attenuated.
#3. If an injunction is granted, RIM is able to argue to stay the enforcement UNTIL AFTER the MercExchange/eBay case is decided by the US Supreme Court.

from USAToday:

Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion had hoped to end a nasty, four-year patent dispute with NTP, a tiny U.S. intellectual property firm. But a judge denied RIM's request to enforce a $450 million settlement the companies announced in March but never finalized. (Opinion: NTP vs. Research in Motion)

That allows the case to proceed — terrible news for RIM. NTP has asked for an injunction that would prevent RIM from selling BlackBerry devices or services in the USA, and there's now a good chance the judge will grant it, says Rod Thompson, a partner with San Francisco law firm Farella Braun & Martel.

But BlackBerry addicts need not panic, says tech analyst Kevin Burden with researcher IDC. "It would be wrong to assume RIM would allow service to be interrupted in its largest market," he says. The USA accounts for about 70% of RIM's business.


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