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Interesting Week for RIM

Posted on Tuesday 14 June 2005

Collars might have be a bit constricting in Waterloo last week. On Monday Microsoft announced that it would release an update to Exchange and Windows Mobile which would make it significantly easier for users to access email, calendars and contacts via wireless networks and client devices. Microsoft has made other moves in this area, but until now has left the broad market to RIM and their competitors. Said a marketing manager at Microsoft:

“We heard from our customers they want a simple and easy way to give their employees access to mobile messaging. The thing that has been the complicating factor until now is expensive middleware. We offer it as an upgrade. It’s free.”

Then Thursday RIM issued a press release saying that it has asked the court to enforce the term sheet RIM and NTP signed in March settling the patent lawsuit. RIM wants the court to get back involved because it claims that NTP is not negotiating in good faith. RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie claims the term sheet is unambiguous, but NTP characterized the term sheet as “vague and ambiguously worded.” The breakdown of discussions wasn’t the end of the bad news for RIM: several market analysts subsequently cut their target price for RIM’s shares.

There is a bit of hope, however. The US Patent and Trademark Office, which has begun a reexamination of the patents at the heart of the dispute, has rejected all claims made in two of NTP’s five patents. USPTO rulings on the other three patents are expected within months. (There is some speculation that RIM’s action is a delaying tactic, but Balsillie denied that in a conference call on Thurdsday.)

Remember what Dick Motta used to say: “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

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