by CIO Staff

RIM’s Challenges in Aftermath of NTP Patent Case

Mar 16, 20069 mins

The patent infringement case may be settled (RIM coughed up $612.5 million to get NTP off its back on March 3, 2006), but RIM faces a new set of challenges. First, the BlackBerry-maker will need to assuage the doubts that its enterprise customers may have felt during the dispute, and dazzle them with new applications for its handheld devices.

“The challenge for RIM is moving beyond mobile e-mail and deliver that sort of thing that makes RIM much more interesting,” says Sara Palmbush, an associate analyst for mobile software at The 451 Group.

In the meantime, RIM also has to reassert itself in the marketplace. Its invigorated competitors — Microsoft, Palm, Good Technology and others — used the lengthy legal battle to make some small inroads into enterprises.

“[The legal battle] gave them entry into some organizations that had not looked at them before,” Palmbush says.

So while the courtroom battle is over, the war has moved back out to the streets, and RIM’s ability to deliver new applications and products is even more paramount.

-Thomas Wailgum

Keep checking in at our CIO News Alerts page for updated news coverage. 

News UpdatesPosted March 16: RIM Rival Defends US Patent Office

Amidst criticism from BlackBerry maker.

Posted March 15: BlackBerry Maker’s Ad. Thanks Users, Calls for Patent ReformRIM uses newspapers to criticize patent system.

Posted March 14: RIM Hopes to Launch BlackBerry in China

No set timeline for deployment.

Posted March 10: RIM Adds IM to BlackBerry Server

Introduced at CeBIT.

Posted March 3: BlackBerry Suit Settlement Reached

Users rejoice!

Posted Feb. 28: Small Victory for BlackBerry Users?Judge denies NTP request.

Posted Feb. 24: Analysis: Patent Reviews Are a Sticky BlackBerry Patch

Law helps drag out dispute.

Judge Stops Short of BlackBerry Shutdown

But he’s likely to issue a decision soon.

Posted Feb. 23: NTP Blasts RIM A Day Before Crucial HearingThrowing jabs before the gavel drops.

Posted Feb. 22: USPTO Rejects Patent in BlackBerry SuitFirst final rejection.

Judge: No BlackBerry Hearing

Gov’t request denied.

Posted Feb. 15: BlackBerry Customers Unfazed by Legal Troubles

Shipments up nearly 50% in 2005.

Posted Feb. 13: MS To Offer New BlackBerry Alternative

Moving in on RIM.

Posted Feb. 9: RIM Unveils BlackBerry Backup PlanTwo weeks before courtdate.

Posted Feb. 7: Open-Source BlackBerry Alternative

Amidst BlackBerry fiasco, firm’s looking to cash in.

Posted Feb. 2: RIM: UK Court Dismissed Patent ClaimsEnglish High Court throws out InPro suit.

Posted Feb. 2: DOJ: Wait on BlackBerry ShutdownJustice wants assurance gov’t users would be exempt.

Posted Feb. 1: Fifth and Last NTP Patent Rejected

NTP has 30 days to respond.

Posted Jan. 31: RIM Rival Slapped With Patent Suit

Good Technology allegedly infringed on four patents.

Posted Jan. 31: BlackBerry Battle Opens Doors For Competitors RIM rivals are looking to cash in.

Posted Jan. 30: RIM Comes Out on Top in German Patent CourtAmidst potential shutdown in U.S., RIM keeps on keeping on in Germany.

Posted Jan. 30: BlackBerry Fiasco Leads to Patent Licensing Scrutiny

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) wants licensing processes reexamined.

Posted Jan. 27: BlackBerry Service Launched in Sri Lanka

Amidst NTP lawsuit, RIM keeps wheeling and dealing.

Posted Jan. 26: The BlackBerry Battle Rolls On

The roller-coaster ride for Research In Motion’s BlackBerry product, as well as the gut-wrenching journey for those addicted “CrackBerry” users, takes a turn for the worse.

Posted Jan. 26: Date for BlackBerry Hearing Set

A federal judge declares February 24 the date he will consider an injunction that could cease all BlackBerry sales and service in the U.S.

Posted Jan. 25: Microsoft Takes Aim as RIM Battles in Court

With Research In Motion’s BlackBerrys in danger of a shutdown for patent violations, Microsoft is ready to exploit the opportunity with its own push e-mail offering.

Posted Jan. 23: Supreme Court Refuses Appeal in BlackBerry Ruling

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from BlackBerry producer, Research In Motion, in the highly publicized war over patents for the popular handheld.

Posted Jan. 18: NTP Suggests “Grace Period” For BlackBerry Users

The U.S patent company seeking a shutdown of most national BlackBerry sales and services, NTP, has proposed a “30 day grace period” before any cut off would occur.

Posted Dec. 20: Taking Shots at RIM

Adversaries vow to “not go silently.” Have you got a plan for life without BlackBerrys? Read what CIO’s Thomas Wailgum had to say in this Sound Off column.

Blog: Crashing the SystemWriter Constantine von Hoffman takes a unique and humorous look at the BlackBerry debacle.

Posted Jan. 23: BlackBerry’s End Means Apocalypse NOW!!!

Readers’ Reactions

True Loss Would Be the BlackBerry DeviceMy staff and I use Goodlink enabled PocketPC phones for their greater IT qualities but most PocketPC phones are temperamental at best. If an injunction on RIM were imposed the real loss for most would be the use of their rugged Blackberry devices. For an executive on the go the simplicity and dependability of the Blackberry device’s functions currently have no equal.

Charles Fisher

Director Information Technology

Encore Acquisition Company

Microsoft InvolvementAt least with Microsoft entering into this area of the market, the devices might actually interface with the Exchange Servers like they are supposed to. When problems arise, as they always do, you have one company to deal with and none of the finger pointing that occurs with multiple companies.

Dana Papst

Network Administrator

The Santa Fe Opera

Property Rights a Key Foundation of Our SocietyI use a blackberry heavily and would be personally inconvenienced by the injunction. More importantly however, I am an American citizen and property owner, and so I applaud the court’s ruling. Property rights are a key foundation of our society. RIM knew it had potential patent problems and proceeded nonetheless. Convenience, speed to market, and management whim should not override NTP’s property rights. Thank goodness the rule of law (occasionally) still prevails.

Guy Mills

Senior Manager

Deloitte Consulting

U.S. Court Decision on TrackRIM knew it had a patent problem and went ahead anyway. The courts should drop the hammer hard and we should support it even if the cost is high. Patent holders have rights. Rationalizing those rights away would hurt us all in a way more important than the money.

Bill Schnell

Director of IT


This Is a Lose-Lose SituationIf NTP wins, the consumers (and corporate America lose), and if RIM wins, then NTP loses (which would be a knock to our IP and Patent system in America). Don’t get me wrong, I believe in patent protection, but this is going to cost consumers in America, as well as many corporations a combined net of more than $1B in losses due to equipment and services investments that cannot be reversed.

From an IP protection standpoint, I feel that it is one thing to have a patent for an “idea/technology”, but it is a different thing to take the risks and invest the capital to make that idea a reality. There should be a limit on how much the inventor is entitled to in a situation like this where NTP had the “ideas” and RIM invested the capital and took all of the risks. It goes back to bigger risks = bigger rewards. I’ll be interested to see how this ends.

Bryan Muehlberger

Site Head, Application Hosting Services

Pfizer, Inc – St. Louis The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and RoundA big yaaawwnnn from me here. I use my “crack-berry” extensively. I really believe that this will get worked out. Happens all the time. If it doesn’t? So what? We already have a back-up plan and we’ll roll right into it. What could possibly be good about that?

1. Due diligence. Our organization will have learned that if you’re going to gamble on potentially risky ventures, then occassionally, it’ll bite you ib the rear. That’s a good thing.

2. Technology advances even further. We’re not that far away from an all-in-one device (and I truly mean All-in-one). The blackberry phenom will be a thing of the past (just like Bill Gates and his fighting with IBM, or Apple, or, well, you get the idea). It all works out, and in the end, our internal-use customers will continue to do their jobs, the way they do their jobs will continually change, and our narrow minds of work into infinity will continue apace. This, my friends, is a hiccup. Nothing more, nothing less.


Bogus Patent DecisionThe size of reward when balanced against the dubious merits of the patent makes no sense. Moreover, even if we were to agree that the patent should have been issued, what did NTP do to create the market? They didn’t manufacture a product, market or distribute it, run a successful business, or do anything else until RIM had invested (for several years) in creating the market. Had we not had prior ridiculous legal precedents of $4M awarded for spilling coffee on oneself, an award of even $50M in this case would have seemed very generous and outsized. Upwards of $1B is just plain stupid – should RIM just hand over the keys to the interlopers at NTP?


Patent Process Lacks Integrity HereI think we all agree on the need for a patent process, and that inventors are entitled to profit from inventions. That is Mom and apple pie.

However, the process that exists does not have integrity. It clearly favors U.S. companies vs. foreign ones, and has granted a number of spurious patents based on ill-informed or poorly educated patent examiners’ decisions. This is a very high profile case based on a very bad original patent award…. Would the patent office be re-evaluating if they didn’t have doubts about the merits of the patent, prior art and substantial, real (provable) innovation? And, just because a hometown Virginia jury made a decision doesn’t make it right, any more than I believe O.J. was innocent.

Anonymous Seek CompromiseI think they should just let the agreed royalty between the two companies stand and end this issue. RIM marketed the idea and several hundred million dollars to have someone else market and grow your idea is a good deal.

Dan Polus

Director of Marketing

LX Technologies