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Drumbeats Of BlackBerry Shutdown

Posted on Monday 30 January 2006

As a precursor to what some are calling the inevitable shutdown of BlackBerry in the US, the Globe and Mail has published an excellent review of the RIM-NTP saga, including comparisons of Mike Lazaridis’ and Tom Campana’s youths and a tale of a courtroom blunder that itself should probably be taught in law school. The piece is definitely worth taking the time to read if you’re at all interested in patent law or spitting contests fueled by egos of historic proportions. For example…

Without a target, or a lawsuit, NTP lacked leverage. And according to later court transcripts, RIM apparently didn’t take the threat very seriously. NTP said RIM ignored the letter. The Canadian company countered that an internal review concluded it wasn’t infringing on NTP’s patents. RIM officials insisted they told NTP that. But RIM couldn’t produce any evidence at trial that it had ever acknowledged NTP’s inquiries — one in a series of costly mistakes that would later turn the judge and the jury against the company.

If RIM didn’t think much of NTP’s Jan. 27, 2000, letter, the formal notice in November, 2001, that NTP had filed an infringement case in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sure got its attention. It prompted a terse RIM news release — the first hint to outsiders of the battle to come. A defiant RIM said the infringement claim was “unsubstantiated” and dismissively characterized NTP’s earlier licensing demand as “a collection of seemingly random marketing materials printed from RIM’s website.”

RIM apparently couldn’t look far enough into the future to see the train wreck ahead.

There’s also a very entertaining Slashdot discussion of the article and the entire saga.

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