Posted By RichC on January 23, 2006
1/26/2006 UPDATE EDIT: Blackberry decision could come on February 24th.
Are you a ‘CrackBerry‘ addict? Thankfully I’m not but do used a computer and cell phone pretty regularly? I suspect we all know someone with a Blackberry device, I for one have a close friend who looks down at his every 5 minutes. 🙂
Its a good new bad news kind of thing as the Supreme Court chose not to intervene in the case between Research In Motion Ltd and the patent-holder NTP Inc., regarding “push” email technology being used by RIM. The case will fall back to the Richmond Virginia federal court and will be in the hands of U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer who once before imposed a settlement of approximately 200 million dollars.
For now, Blackberry service is still up and running and the judge could impose and injunction that would block service to customer devices. More than likely he will encourage RIM to strike a mutually acceptable deal with the patent holder. Some suspect that Research In Motion Ltd. is seeking time to develop another method that will allow its 3 million or so users to continue to stay connected … although many believe that is what they have been trying to do. Nevertheless, a solution is not yet at hand.
According recent comments, “Attorney Kevin Anderson, who represents NTP, said the firm is pleased with the court’s action.” He went on to say that NTP thinks “the Supreme Court’s rejection of RIM’s position makes it clear that RIM should stop defying the U.S. legal system.”
To add to the confusion, Research In Motion’s Vice President Mark Guibert said, “RIM has consistently acknowledged that Supreme Court review is granted in only a small percentage of cases and we were not banking on Supreme Court review. RIM’s legal arguments for the District Court remain strong and our software workaround designs remain a solid contingency.”
BlackBerry devices have been the handheld leader in ‘constant email contact’ devices since 1999. Until recently they had few comparibles … perhaps most notable the Palm Treo Communicators.
The legal actions began in 2001, when NTP sued RIM for infringing their patents. A jury in 2002 in Richmond then decided that RIM had indeed infringed on patents held by NTP and awarded them 5.7 percent of U.S. BlackBerry sales. Judge Spencer later decided to increase that rate to 8.55 percent. Estimates are that this would amount to nearly 200 million. In a sign that NTP might be concerned that RIM will find a work around or continue to slow the legal proceedings, they have indicated just this past week that they are willing to resolve the matter if RIM were to pay the original 5.7 percent royalty fee granted by the 2002 jury.