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Both Sides Now – RIM and NTP

Posted on Friday 24 June 2005

I’m tempted to think that the RIM-NTP patent drama might just last until I retire. Last week I noted that RIM had gone back to court asking that NTP be forced to abide by the terms RIM thought it had negotiated in settlement talks in March. The US PTO added a twist by rejecting claims made by NTP in two patents which are part of the suit.

Now the PTO has finished reexamining several more NTP patents and has rejected claims in all of them, leaving only one patent remaining to be reexamined. These rulings, by the way, are administrative steps rather than final rulings. NTP can respond and has done so already, at least to the earlier rulings; NTP can take the rulings to court if it wants, and they could also amend their claims.

RIM still seems willing to pay NTP up to $450M, as they agreed in March, even if the PTO tosses out all of NTP’s claims. According to this InfoWorld article RIM thinks that’s likely. But NTP’s co-founder, Donald Stout, himself a patent attorney, disagrees. “We’ve had discussions with the patent examiners involved in reviewing the patents, and we believe that they will find the patents to be valid,” he told C|Net in a very interesting interview.

I know Jim Balsillie a little bit. I’ve never met Stout, but he sounds like he and Balsillie are very much alike. Perhaps a more accurate title for this drama is “Titanic Egos Clash in Cage Match”.

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