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Any Port in a Storm?

Posted on Monday 24 January 2005

The New York Times notes that RIM has told the US court overseeing its ongoing patent suit with NTP that US patent laws should not apply since RIM is headquartered in Canada and its main email switch is located there. The Canadian government has also filed a brief in the case, as has Earthlink, who is a BlackBerry reseller; according to the Times both entities support RIM’s argument.

Regardless of the merits of NTP’s claims or the strength of the underlying patents, owners of intellectual property are certainly watching RIM’s tenacious defense. RIM can’t possibly have concluded that pursuing this in the courts is cheaper than licensing the patents; Lazaridis and Balsillie are clearly standing on principle. Their latest argument should be seen as evidence of their willingness and ability to make all possible legal arguments rather than cynically flout US law while banking US dollars.

RIM’s corporate determination has surprised many, including Donald Stout, NTP co-founder and corporate attorney, who may have revealed a bit about his company’s original strategy in filing the suit: [emphasis mine]

Several analysts and others in the financial community have suggested that R.I.M. should settle with NTP and move on. Through a spokeswoman, R.I.M. declined to comment on why it continued to fight NTP. But Mr. Stout attributed it to the personalities of the company’s key executives, particularly Michael Lazaridis, R.I.M.’s president, co-chief executive and the holder of 30 patents covering wireless technologies and software. “I’ve been practicing for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Mr. Stout. “Most companies don’t have this amount of fight in them.

[By the way, I had not realized that Thomas Campana, co-founder of NTP and the engineer behind its patents, died last June.]

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