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RIM and NTP Back in Court Today

Posted on Monday 7 June 2004

If you’re RIM or NTP, or an avid BlackBerry user (or Cingular, for that matter), today’s the day to watch the US Court of Appeals here in Washington. RIM and NTP will argue the merits of their positions in the patent infringement suit brought by NTP. The New York Times has an excellent summary of the case so far, at least once you get past the alarmist lead

“Is it really possible that Bill Gates, Pamela Anderson and phalanxes of stockbrokers, lawyers and Congressional staff members will have to give up one of their most treasured possessions: their BlackBerries?”

and the idiotic quote from NTP’s lawyer.

“RIM is ‘engaging in “bet your company” litigation,’ said Jim Wallace, a lawyer representing NTP. ‘What’s at stake is the entire company. If you look at their annual reports, their core business is BlackBerries in the United States.'”

RIM tried to get the court to agree to delay hearing its appeal until after the US Patent and Trademark Office finished its reexamination of NTP’s patents, but that motion was denied last October.

The two sides have been trying, under court order, to negotiate a royalty plan but have not been able to come up with an agreement that pleases them both. NTP will gain little besides a one-time payment if RIM is enjoined from further BlackBerry sales in the US; and I find it implausible at best that a court will ruin RIM’s business when there is a clear way not to do so. Even more likely is that the Court of Appeals will delay its ruling until after the patent reexamination, under way since January, 2003, is complete; unless, of course, it finds the original court’s rulings so much in error that it sides with RIM all the way.

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