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Old 11-30-2005, 01:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry Judge Rules Against BlackBerry Settlement

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Judge Rules Against BlackBerry Settlement

By STEPHANIE STOUGHTON
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 30, 2005; 1:03 PM

RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal judge ruled invalid Wednesday a $450 million settlement between a small patent holding firm and the maker of BlackBerry e-mail devices, Research in Motion Ltd.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is a victory for NTP Inc., an Arlington company that contends the technology behind the popular BlackBerry infringes on its patents.


Canada's RIM had sought to uphold the settlement, which was reached earlier this year. NTP argued that it was never finalized.

As expected, Spencer also denied RIM's request to delay the case while awaiting word from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is re-examining NTP's patents. The patent office has preliminarily rejected the patents at the core of the lawsuit.

Spencer's decisions raise more uncertainties for BlackBerry users in the United States, where most of the company's 3.65 million customers are based. The judge could next consider re-issuing an injunction that threatens to shut down BlackBerry service in this country.

However, analysts and industry observers expect RIM could be backed into a corner and forced to settle for a sum as high as $1 billion.

"It was pretty much as predicted, and it indicates that Judge Spencer is going to move swiftly to conclude the case," said James H. Wallace Jr., an attorney for NTP. "We would hope that these developments would bring the parties back to the table to resolve this matter."

When asked whether U.S. BlackBerry users might see an end to their service, Wallace remarked that RIM officials "own the keys to their own jail."

An attorney for RIM did not immediately return a telephone message.

The Nasdaq market halted trading of BlackBerry's shares just before the ruling was made public. The stock's price rose 36 cents to $65.28 before the halt.

Spencer said he would be communicating with both parties to set up a hearing date and briefing schedule "on the remaining issues of injunctive relief and appropriate damages."

The judge has grown impatient with the long-running patent case.

During a Nov. 9 hearing, he said that he had spent enough of his "time and life involved with NTP and RIM." On Wednesday, he expressed similar frustration.

"Drawn out discovery disputes, claim construction issues, multiple motions for summary judgment, countless pretrial motions, and many evidentiary objections set the tone for a complex, contentions path toward a resolution of this case," Spencer wrote in his opinion.

NTP was co-founded by Thomas J. Campana Jr., a Chicago-area engineer who in 1990 created a system to send e-mails between computers and wireless devices. He helped form NTP to protect his work.

In 2002, a federal jury in Richmond agreed that RIM had infringed on NTP's patents and awarded the smaller company 5.7 percent of U.S. BlackBerry sales. Spencer increased that rate to 8.55 percent. The amount of damages and fees had reached $210 million at last count.
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Old 11-30-2005, 01:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for the heads up. Please see the 3 other posts from earlier today about the smae subject:
RIMM Trading Suspended
Breaking News!!! Rimm loses another round.
[2005-11-30] US judge deals RIM blow in BlackBerry patent case
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Old 11-30-2005, 02:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There are several duplicate threads about this matter.
The info has been moved to the main thread, not a new thread.

Some useful history, pasted from another post.
Quote:
1. As mentioned, RIM has developed a workaround already. They can keep running. NTP is out of luck, they can only sue for retroactive damages -- and the network keeps running.

2. This patent tussle is stuff that has been going on since 2003 and they haven't been shut down. RIM has had plenty of time with lots of backup plans that the media hasn't been publicizing. Some of us know more a lot more about these plans than the media does.

3. RIM already set aside nearly half a billion dollars to pay NTP. Although they are fighting over details, the money is already set aside. RIM will do a last minute settlement if they have to. The money is already there, but will only be used during an emergency elevent-hour settlement.

4. Even if worse comes to worse, the U.S. government - by way of DOJ - is on RIM's side. Even if they don't deploy the workaround, the USA government has asked for an exemption because the U.S. government is remarkably dependant on this Canadian technology (surprise, surprise!). This gives RIM plenty of time to deploy a workaround at their own leisure. No shutdown necessary.

5. You would have several million angry customers, since BlackBerry is also the most popular PDA (more popular than Palm now -- and many more units than TREO). You can bet RIM is going to play hardball to the eleventh hour, before they give a red dime to NTP.

6. The patent may be invalid. NTP may be suing over nothing. RIM wants to keep its half billion dollars.

Therefore, RIM is never going to be shut down in USA. RIM is wearing six backup parachutes -- skydivers jump with only one backup in addition to their main parachute. Don't believe the media hype one little bit.

It's a total non-issue now. It shouldn't be affecting BlackBerry purchases anymore since the network isn't going to be shut down, even if a few of the parachutes go bad.
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Last edited by Mark Rejhon : 11-30-2005 at 02:10 PM.
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