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RIM Chairman Wants Changes to U.S. Patent Law 245

Posted by Zonk
from the with-good-reason dept.
florescent_beige writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that James Balsillie '... called on U.S. lawmakers yesterday to fix a system that he says boxed the company into one of the largest legal settlements in U.S. history.' Although this will do nothing to change the $612.5M(US) settlement RIM was forced to sign with NTP, Mr. Balsille says he wants to help 'assure that no other company experiences what we endured over the past five years.' Mr Balsillie's rhetoric was direct: he said RIM's treatment at trial was like '... a judge in a murder case pondering execution while ignoring DNA evidence that exonerates the accused ... RIM was virtually held up for ransom by NTP...'"
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RIM Chairman Wants Changes to U.S. Patent Law

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  • by mcwop (31034) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:48PM (#15078522) Homepage
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:49PM (#15078530)
    I was holding out for a longer court battle, in the hopes that more and more crackberry addicted suits would be forced into looking at patent reform. I'll take what I can get but it would be nice to have more than one chairman on board.
    • What I find is how the government wanted to be excluded from any injunctions/service shut downs. The government says that they are not above the law, but... this sure says they want to be. =)

      Now that crackberry addict government people are safe with their phones, the patent reform issue is moot because they got their crack and are happy.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:50PM (#15078539) Homepage Journal
    I didn't closely follow the case but if memory serves it went something like this:

    1) RIM and NTP originally tried to negotiate an agreement so that RIM could use NTPs patented idea

    2) No agreement was reached so RIM walked away

    3) RIM, despite knowing of NTPs patented idea, went ahead and developed a communication system based directly on NTPs patent

    4) RIM got caught and had to pay for its mistake

    Am I missing something or is this just a case of someone getting caught and whining about it? I'm sincerely curious, not trolling.
    • by ergo98 (9391)
      Am I missing something or is this just a case of someone getting caught and whining about it? I'm sincerely curious, not trolling.

      To get this straight: Instead of finding one of the countless case of information on this case, instead you decided to post a hopeful karma-whore on Slashdot, repeating a bunch of ignorant mistruths that you're unsure of?

      Interesting approach.
      • Eh, I'm lazy. What can I say.

        And no, it wasn't for the karma. I'm maxed out.
        • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:01PM (#15078651) Homepage Journal
          NTP is a purported patent troll, existing on fluffed up patents (many created using the continuation loophole of the patent office, allowing them to add news discoveries in other people's products into a long idling patent application). All of NTPs patents are likely to be discarded by the USPTO on review, however the disconnect between the justice system and the USPTO allowed NTP to extort $600+ million dollars out of RIM by threatening them with an injunction.

          The civil justice treats granted patents as valid, yet the USPTO operates under the workflow model of basically granting everything, and then dealing with problem patents upon petitions -- but the review is far too slow, allowing malicious patent trolls to siphon off of legitimately innovative organizations.

          e.g. I sneak a patent in that patents vacuums. The USPTO grants it, and I can then cajole a judge into granting an injunction against every vacuum maker unless they pay my extortion fee. The USPTO will of course pull the patent out and start reviewing it, but the vacuum cleaners will have long been forced to pay up.
          • So, in essence, what you're saying is:

            1. Patent vacuum
            2. Sue vacuum manufacturers
            3. Profit!

            If that's the case, I have applications to fill out...

          • by Errandboy of Doom (917941) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:38PM (#15079017) Homepage
            NTP is no patent troll, the owner seriously tried to fund development of his project, until the megacorps repeatedly left him hanging. His investments in demos and prototypes ended up ruining him.

            NTP repeatedly sought good faith settlements from RIM, who knew he had tried to develop this design in the past.

            Then RIM tried to prove its case by lying in court directly to the jury and judge.

            But it's okay, it's hard to find this angle buried in the story.

            Unless you read slashdot [slashdot.org].
            • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:21PM (#15079377) Homepage Journal
              NTP is no patent troll, the owner seriously tried to fund development of his project, until the megacorps repeatedly left him hanging. His investments in demos and prototypes ended up ruining him.

              Using dubious patents (all of the patents in question have been rejected) to coerce money out of organizations that independently created something similar (e.g. Does anyone think that RIM learned about NTP's projects and then covertly copied them? I've never, ever heard that accusation) is pretty much the definition of a patent troll. Further vilifying them, NTP held out for a non-reversable judgement because they know that odds are great that their patents will fail the appeals: They wanted their $600 million or they'd force an injunction, and they wanted it quick before the USPTO rips out the entire foundation of their case.

              There is absolutely no positive angle for NTP.
            • I wonder if RIM would be treading on libel lines for some of the highly-charged phrases used in this plea to Congress?
            • by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:36PM (#15080129)
              Why not let them judge for themselves:

              http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=patent+6%2C31 7%2C592 [google.com]

              http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=patent+5% 2C436%2C960 [google.com]

              Here's the last two patents in question.
            • by Errandboy of Doom (917941) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @10:54PM (#15081914) Homepage
              Just looking back at the comments in this thread is really sobering.

              All the posts that get modded up fiercely defend one side or the other, and accuse the other side of being utter slime.

              These extreme positions (mine above included) all get modded up, and they all get modded overrated.

              I'm past believing that one half of /. or the other simply doesn't know the facts.

              I think the explanation is that we all think of patents as a tool to safeguard innovation, but we all think that system has broken down. This case illustrates that fact in different ways for different people:

              either
              1) It's a case of a large company vs. a little guy. Large companies in this system churn out spurious patents which clog the USPTO. They constantly cry out for strict protection for intellectual property, claiming innovation dies without such protections. When they get attacked for violating a little guy's patents, they act appalled, and cry bloody murder. This case points to the hypocrisy of megacorps in an era where the little guy who just wants to help the world is squeezed out of innovating, because he can't afford the expensive patent lawyers it takes to just get started.
              OR
              2) It's a case of a slimy law-saavy company who abuses the system, waiting to prey on any successful innovation without actually helping society get better by bringing anything to market. The patent system shouldn't protect people who game the system, waiting to pounce on companies that develop a working product. This case represents how the bogged down patent system represents a minefield where any inventor is always clueless as to whether they've stepped on someone else's toes or not.

              I suspect neither account is entirely accurate, but both have some truth.
          • Yeah, and then back in the real world, you invent something truly remarkable, like a quantum computer, you send your application into the patent office and two years later, your first office action is a rejection like every other first office action the USPTO sends out. If your "invention" was a vacuum cleaner, then you have no hope of overcoming that rejection. If you have something that nobody has actually patented before, you tell the examiner what's wrong with his reasoning, and THEN he issues your pa
            • by enjo13 (444114) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:54PM (#15079164) Homepage
              My experience indicates the parent is absolutely correct.

              We filed a patent application nearly 4 years ago. We received a rejection about 3 weeks ago, and are in the process of resubmittal. Our patent has been hung up in the system for better than 3 years AND it was rejected initially. This despite the fact that this particular patent is both non-trivial and quite narrow.
          • Didn't you just write:
            "To get this straight: Instead of finding one of the countless case of information on this case, instead you decided to post a hopeful karma-whore on Slashdot, repeating a bunch of ignorant mistruths that you're unsure of?"

            And then go on to say:
            NTP is a purported patent troll, existing on fluffed up patents (many created using the continuation loophole of the patent office, allowing them to add news discoveries in other people's products into a long idling patent application)."

            Maybe yo
    • by smbarbour (893880) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:02PM (#15078663)
      No, that's not quite it...

      1) RIM established it's BlackBerry service
      2) NTP filed a patent on how it works. (And did not subsequently do ANYTHING with it)
      3) NTP contacts RIM to "negotiate" a licensing agreement for NTP's patent (RIM walked away)
      4) Lawsuits are filed
      5) Patent office invalidates NTP's relevant patents
      6) RIM ordered to pay, due to the courts not allowing the testimony of the patent office.

      The patent system needs to be reformed. Patents are supposed to protect companies against theft. Patents are not supposed to be a form of revenue.

      The way it should work (in my opinion) is that if you want to patent something, you had better have something tangible to present with your filing. In this case, NTP only held a piece of paper saying they invented something. They did not write any code or develop any product (or component of a product). Essentially, there were only three possible sources of revenue for NTP: Investments, Licensing, and Lawsuits.
      • Thank you. From your posting I was missing something. Now it becomes more clear.
      • "The way it should work (in my opinion) is that if you want to patent something, you had better have something tangible to present with your filing. In this case, NTP only held a piece of paper saying they invented something. They did not write any code or develop any product (or component of a product). Essentially, there were only three possible sources of revenue for NTP: Investments, Licensing, and Lawsuits"

        I agree with you to a point about having something "tangible", but don't think it should be requi
        • I think it is necessary to produce something tangible in order to grant a patent for it;
          Otherwise idiots like NTP will still be able to abuse the patent system.
          Individual inventors don't have the funds to strech lawsuits to 3 yrs so that ppl can come to a conclusion.

          On the other hand, I completly dislike patents. I don't think they foster innovation at all, rather they hinder it. The only people that profit from patents are Lawyers.
        • sounds like a start to reform.

          >your patent protection is limited to, say 3 years. You either use it or lose it.

          3 years from when would be my problem. I think companies like TIVO, 6 months after it was available, as the only product of it's kind, at best buy, the patent should have been rendered as fair use public domain.

          but I can't think of a way to write a legal definition to match that in every instance, other than, "Ask Darren if the inventor has made enough profit, or had enough compensation yet."
      • The way it should work (in my opinion) is that if you want to patent something, you had better have something tangible to present with your filing. In this case, NTP only held a piece of paper saying they invented something. They did not write any code or develop any product (or component of a product). Essentially, there were only three possible sources of revenue for NTP: Investments, Licensing, and Lawsuits.

        Personally, I think that the moment someone else comes up with a solution that infringes on a pate
        • I believe our system use a date of conception principal, which avoids some of the "land office rush", but starts court fights over date of inception. I remember seing a TV story about the guy who invented the laser, complete with technical drawings but no working prototype as it was techincal impossible at the time and the application was turned down. Eventualy lasers utilizing the NeHe discharge tube were patented that was exactly like the original drawings, which began a 15 year court battle eventualy res
      • There is a lot of misinformation about this case, and as with most things in life it is not so cut and dry.

        Lets try this order:

        1) NTP is in the wireless communication business early. I think a decade before Blackberry and its derivatives come into existence.
        2) NTP creates said patents. Whether they should have passed the novelty or prior art threshholds I don't know.
        3) NTP fails in its attempts to market the technology and ultimately folds. Patents are placed in a dusty drawer.
        4) RIM creates blackberry.
        5
    • by Mydron (456525) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:02PM (#15078671)
      Yes you are missing something. Namely that NTP doesn't have patents, they have patent applications. Applications that were found to be undeserving of issuance by the PTO; but only for the time being, ultimately anything is patentable if you're determined and willing to pay enough continuance/appeal fees to the PTO.

      Unfortunately for RIM, fortunately for NTP, patent owners can litigate and license their patents before issuance. This little loophole was introduced because applications take so long to be examined by the PTO.
      • As I said to the poster above you:

        Thank you. From your posting I was missing something. Now it becomes more clear.

        *waits the required 1 minute until he can post this*

        *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* *tick* (repeat 12 times)
      • Not true. They have patents. Patent applications are not enforceable.

        The patents were certainly granted. They may now be invalidated, but that is a second look AFTER the grant.
        • All they had was the application while RIM was building the Blackberry though. The Patents didn't actually go through until there were already Blackberries in people's hands.
    • by ifdef (450739) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:05PM (#15078705)
      Yes, you certainly are missing something.

      1) RIM developed a communication system.

      2) Years later, NTP sent RIM a letter saying "we think you are infringing on one of our 5000 patents."

      3) RIM replied, asking "what patent are we infringing?", but got no reply.

      4) NTP sued.

      5) During the court case, RIM demonstrated prior art. However, on the same computer, there was another program, irrelevant to the demonstration, which was dated later than the patent date, so the demonstration was called "fraud", and RIM was not allowed to repeat the demonstration with that program removed from the computer. Yes, this appears to have been incompetence on the part of someone at RIM setting up the demonstration.

      6) RIM and NTP reached a settlement, but for some reason, NTP decided that they could do better. My guess is that the original settlement may have included a requirement to repay some of the money if the patents were eventually invalidated.

      7) Under threat of an injunction to shut down US operations, RIM settled again, as the injunction would have taken effect before the patent office was finished with its process.

      So, no, it's not just a case of someone getting caught doing something wrong.
    • Am I missing something [...] ?

      Yes: the fact that NTP's patents were on SMTP - via wireless!

      I wonder if anyone's patented SMTP - via quantum entanglement! - yet, or if it's still up for grabs.

      • I wonder if anyone's patented SMTP - via quantum entanglement!
        They haven't, so if you've reduced it to practice, get a patent attorney now!
      • > I wonder if anyone's patented SMTP - via quantum entanglement! - yet, or if it's still up for grabs.

        since your patent idea is now published, and soon locked into google, if you havent sent in the patent, your patent could be easily invalidated.

        however, you apparently have time to profit between application and invalidation.
  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:51PM (#15078552) Homepage
    Is this not the same company that sued Handspring over the shape of the buttons on their Treo keyboards?

    I'm not saying the circumstances are the same, and the article doesn't make clear what reforms he wants (apparently patents with hundreds of claims are seen as problematic, and I agree)... it just strikes me as a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I personally am more against the extremely low standards for novelty and non-obviousness than anything, which is why RIM striking out against patents sticks in my craw. But hey, maybe they've now seen the light and realize patent holders simply have too much power.
    • Is this not the same company that sued Handspring over the shape of the buttons on their Treo keyboards?

      I'm not familiar with that case, but that sounds more like a copyright infringement than a patent issue.

    • It's more a case of the pot saying TURN OFF THE FIRE!
    • by saha (615847) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:19PM (#15078842)
      You're right. Prior to the NTP fiasco RIM was on a patent jihad. Rampaging against companies not just for something as mundane as its QWERTY keyboard arrangement and shapes of its keys.

      From the horse's mouth. Research In Motion Files Wireless Patent Complaint Against Glenayre Electronics, Inc [rim.net]

      I guess what goes around come around, at least in this case.

    • Re:Wait a minute... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fuzzybunny (112938)
      The phrase you're looking for is "my enemy's enemy is my friend".

      Regardless of what stupid, immoral, abuse of the very same patent/copyright/trademark system they committed in the past, if they now turn around and say "the system is b0rked! Fix it!" however selfish and hypocritical their motivation would be, they still have a point.

      Imagine Microsoft coming out, guns blazing, against buggy software, vendor lock-in, software monopolies, immoral and anti-competitive tactics and sundry other things for which t
      • I like to imagine the sky as a deep iridescent purple. Can I have a flying swine too, while we're imagining things? :)
        Yeah, I know, it's totally OT. I just had to get it out of my system.
    • Is this not the same company that sued Handspring over the shape of the buttons on their Treo keyboards?

      Yes. Hopefully this is a good thing.

      You see, there is no better way to be certain that something is possible but to do it yourself.

      These guys tried to be a patent troll, got mugged by a fouler troll and want to clean up the countryside. They are not going to easily accept the usual of "well, the system mostly works with some exceptions" - not only it happened to them, but they have experience in doin

    • All the patents-in-suit in the RIM/NTP case were stamped with non-final rejections by the PTO. Still, if RIM wants to trash NTP, they ought to look at their own actions a few years back. I wonder if NTP will renege on the deal in light of these inflammatory comments and really trash RIM.
  • I understand that the six hundred million dollar settlement is to be paid out over a period of time but isn't that quite a bit for a company that reports [yahoo.com] $213,387,000 net income in 2005 and only $51,829,000 net income in 2004?

    I'm know their sales have been through the roof but recently the company I work for restricted anyone from using a blackberry--in fact I don't even think the company owns anymore for that matter. Whether this be security concerns or just operating cost, I'm not sure.

    What I
    • RIM Actually had 700+ million ion cash at the end of Q3 2005, so they have been set for this for a while. I'd heard that they were positioning themselves to have to pay up to 1 Billion, so it will hurt, but it isn't going to destroy the company.

      On the contrary, RIM ought to see stronger sales going forward now that there is a settlement.
  • Ridiculous patent... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:53PM (#15078572)
    "NTP's eight original patents, for example, contained an average of 240 claims each, including one with 665 claims, Mr. Balsillie said."

    Coming from someone with granted patents, patents pending, and patent applications on the works, I can tell you that 665 claims is totally ridiculous in a patent.

    I propose NTP's lawyers be sent -airless- to outer space, that company's executives be hanged, and its servers donated to a Barbie website. Hot pink.
  • Share the blame... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhysicsPhil (880677) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:57PM (#15078617)
    If he wants to blame someone for a massive court settlement, perhaps he should try looking in the mirror. RIM had the chance to settle this for a pittance early on, but decided to role the dice in court and lost. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/29/17 26238 [slashdot.org]

    The patent system certainly needs some fixing, but outlawing stupid CEOs at the same time would also be a big help. I'm not going to get my hopes up though.

    • No. RIM deserved to win. The patents were being thrown out. But they still had to pay NTP for patents that were invalid.

      Between NTP and SCO, I've lost almost all faith in the patent/copyright IP system. I mean, in both cases, the two companies didn't have much to go with, and they're costing legitimate innovators (RIM and IBM) serious time and money, and spreading a lot of FUD. Then there's the really stupid patents, like "One Click Shopping" or "Buy it Now" or doubleclicking.
  • by emil (695) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @02:57PM (#15078621) Homepage

    It would have been interesting if RIM had called NTP's bluff and provoked an injunction.

    While the damage to their business would have been grave, it would have been interesting to see them FIRST shut down all government users en masse.

    If they could have delayed the shutdown of commercial systems by a few days or weeks, they might have gotten congress to pass special legislation putting a stop to it.

    I wonder what shutdown options were discussed in the board room.

  • ...a Canadian company is on the receiving end of US courts?
  • by demigod (20497) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:00PM (#15078648)
    ...$612.5M(US) settlement RIM was forced to sign with NTP...

    For a fraction of that they could have hired hitmen for all the NTP management and thier legal counsle.

    • yes, but then you need to hire hitmen to do the original hitmen (in case they think of talking), and then legal counsel for the second-degree hitmen, and it's just a big mess.
    • Hiring a hit on one guy is easy, but hiring a hit on ~30 guys, who don't all ever meet in one place, is a substantial challenge. Remember, you have to do it all pretty simultaneously, or the victims get wise and start to hire on protection, and then you have escalation and retaliation to worry about.
      • Hiring a hit on one guy is easy, but hiring a hit on ~30 guys, who don't all ever meet in one place, is a substantial challenge.

        That's why you've got to give the first hit as much dramatic impact as possible. It's one thing to know that someone's out to get you, but a completely different thing to know that the guy in the next cubicle got drawn, quartered, decapitated, a cow's head sewn on in place, stuffed with pinto beans, then dropped from 50,000 feet onto the parking lot at the World Scout Jamboree.

    • On a related note, I wonder how many congress critters you can get for $612.5...
    • Actually, the simplest and most effective way to change a law (or federal system) is campaign contributions and good lobbying. Google, Microsoft, et al just found this out the hard way with the squashing of the network neutrality bill.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:04PM (#15078694) Homepage
    It was only a matter of time before the gold-rush of patents turned into a pain in the ass. It's still there, the culture of routinely filing for patents for complete nonsense, I mean. The changes that are needed are pretty well thought-out by thousands of people and organizations out there. Now's the time to get their ideas moving. And clearly since both the senate and congress are addicted to crackberries too, I don't suspect this will be a hard issue to get onto the floor.

    Kill off software patents and kill off business process patents and that'd likely take care of the bulk of the problem right there. And since it seems that most of these frivolous patents are simply defensive in nature, I'm pretty certain the many level-headed execs out there would not mind relinquishing their defensive weapons so long as it's a unilateral disarmament.
    • I rather think that patent law should come under a "use it or lose it" kind of deal. Defensive patents are a terrible thing: deep pockets combined my ability to come up with any sort of independant thought whatsoever should not equal a patent being awarded. Patent Holding companies are just a ludicrous exploitation of the system: "Oooooo, I'm gonna sue you!" And like you said, patents should be awarded for genuine innovation, not abstract ideas. I'm in two minds on software patents, I think denying our know
    • Which could be the most ridiculous of all of them. Patenting pieces of the human genome. . . that's gonna be good for science.
    • Pain in the ass for whom? For entrepreneurs and engineers, trying to bring a great idea to market, and reap the rewards of their ingenuity? Sure. For lawyers and judges and Congress, the first of whom collect giant fees for litigating for and against patents, the second of whom revels in the glorious power of being able to decide the fate of millions, and the third of whom rolls in fat campaign contributions from all sides in the debate? Ha ha.

      Don't look for lawyers to reform our legal system. Pigs migh
  • Where has the Neo Liberal Canadian Government been in all this?

    Canada's breakout convergence darling, our future NOKIA gets beaten with some BULLCRAP legal play by a collection of yankee lawyers -- forcing the company to hold still for years (customers doubt their viability, causing them to divert attention from conquering the world).

    Where was our government in all this? Why was a Canadian company being brow beaten by a housefull of lawyers? One reason: If RIM was AMERICAN, some in-house politico would h
    • Hey, don't get all whiney just because you can't come up with your own ideas, eh?
    • The patent office threw out NTP's patent claims, albeit too late in the trial to make a difference. Or do you think this was some kind of retaliation for Canada's dumping of wood on the market which even the WTO ruled illegal? ROFLMAO!!!

      • Re:Please... (Score:2, Informative)

        by PrairieFire (549023)
        Actually, you got that backwards. The WTO has ruled a number of times that Canada isn't dumping softwood on the market and that the billions in tarriffs that the US has been collecting is illegal and owned back to the Canadian lumber companies.
        • Actually, the WTO ruled that the US could apply tariffs:

          "A WTO panel on Tuesday upheld U.S.-imposed anti-dumping duties on imported Canadian softwood lumber, but said the U.S. government's calculations of the duties were wrong." - CBC [www.cbc.ca]

          Three Nafta panels have ruled in favour of Canada, including the extraordinary challenge commitee, the highest point of appeal IIRC. The irony is that Canada didn't originaly want this commitee when negotiating NAFTA, but the US did, and now it too has ruled against the US.

          Lo

    • by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:39PM (#15079028)
      .... but my vote is we burn NAFTA. It really blows getting burnt by your money grubbing patent laws (America to world: "we own IDEAS(!)). Stuff it.

      ummmmmm .... I have some bad news for you.

      NAFTA covers international trade, not intellectual property rights. When RIM conducts business in the United States, it's subject to US law. When IBM conducts business in Canada, it's subject to Canadian law.

      Running a business in a foreign country is not the same as selling wheat, softwood lumber, or beef from Canada into the United States.
    • Where has the Neo Liberal Canadian Government been in all this?
      Getting their asses voted out of office.

      Too late for RIM, unfortuneately...

    • How much money does RIM make from the United States? If RIM doesn't want to subject itself to United States law, it can leave our markets. If RIM wants to make American dollars, it has to follow American law. Certainly, RIM didn't shy away from the U.S. legal system when it sued others for infringing on its patent on miniature keyboards on portable devices. Besides, it's not as though RIM didn't lobby U.S. Congressman into getting the PTO to reject all the NTP patents in unheard-of pace.
  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:09PM (#15078749)
    This sounds like a good thing from the perspective of those who have seen abusive lawsuits over questionable patent claims. I can't help but think that from a lawmaker or business perspective it's RIM's opinion that will be viewed as a "sore loser" rather than "moral reformer".

    It's more likely this call for attention from RIM will encourage more curiousity of how to exploit these legislative loopholes rather than start the reformation of a broken system. It's a new way to milk your competitor. The only people hit by this will be the slow, poor, or legally-inept losers. And those are irrelevant voices in making legislation today anyway it seems.

    I really hope I'm wrong though. Reformation has to start somewhere.

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:10PM (#15078766) Homepage Journal
    Laws are written with the pretext that it will better serve the citizens, but with the posttext that it servers the politicians in giving them power over those they serve. No change to the law will make a difference -- politicians don't write laws the way we want them written, and many of them don't even read the bills that they vote into law. Don't be surprised when the "Fix the Patent System Act of 2007" is passed, and all it does is incorporate 500 pork barrel items not pertaining to patents, as well as some changes that only give Congress more power over something it was never meant to destroy. Yes, Congress has the right to make patent laws, but they were supposed to exist for a short period of time to protect individual inventors, not megacorporations who create nothing and stifle innovation.

    If we want to change the system, we need to get these laws in front of the Supreme Court, over and over and over. Don't let them tell you no, just keep refiling under new pretenses. Stop voting for the monsters who make the laws, and consider all the bad laws on the books.

    What we need is a President who does nothing but veto, over and over and over. That won't happen. What we need is Senators to be elected by the state governments like it was before the 17th Amendment was passed -- Senators who think about the power of the state over the power over of the federal government. That won't happen. What we need is to reduce the power of the two parties by throwing out all campaign finance laws ("incumbent protection acts") and also throwing out the control of the debates. That won't happen.

    It isn't just the patent laws that are broken, it is the system. Instead of a Republic of Independent States, we have a democracy of statism and authoritarianism. Don't expect it to get fixed, not as long as you continue supporting the monsters in office -- from both parties.
  • by augustz (18082) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:12PM (#15078784) Homepage
    As a point of references, some history is useful.

    RIM made lots and lots of noise about their own IP, and have gone after lots of people before finding themselves on the other side of the ball.

    "RIM is alleging that Good is infringing on its patents, according to the suit. The first is "for a method and apparatus to remotely control gateway functions in a wireless data communications network." The second "relates to a method and system for loading an application program on a device." The third "relates to a method and system for transmitting data files between computers in a wireless data communications environment."

    or this one

    "Ontario, Canada-based RIM charges in a suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Delaware that Glenayre Technologies violates a patent granted last month to RIM protecting the way the BlackBerry redirects e-mail from a computer or server to a handheld using a single e-mail address." - http://news.com.com/RIM+wins+patent%2C+sues+rival/ 2100-1040_3-257801.html?tag=st.ref.goo [com.com]

    Anyways, my point is that RIM really loved patents when they could shut out their competition with them, but disliked them when someone heard them making lots of noise about their IP and said, wait a minute, we have patents in the same area. Despite extrodinarily preferential treatment by the USPTO (ie, no one else will get patents they context reviewed that fast ever), they still were unable to prevail.

    Something def needs to be fixed on the patent side, but there is something interesting also about RIM getting some of its own medicine. I wonder if someone has a more complete history on their annoucements on monetizing their IP portfolio.
    • People can change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gorimek (61128) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:33PM (#15078969) Homepage
      You could see that a hypocritical, but I prefer to see it as someone having their eyes opened once they became the victim of the system. People can learn from their mistakes and become more enlightened.

      If they were just self serving and opportunistic I don't see why they would keep campaining on the issue now that their own problems have been solved.
  • Patent law is so far out of hand it is just a farse at this point. I'm personally glad that people (and people with money and a voice behind it) are finally also getting fed up with it.

    That is one of the main things the "Pirate Party" has right, and it is time we start getting this fixed before it is unrepairable.
  • by omahaNerd (860747) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @03:31PM (#15078953)
    seems like an easy change would be to require a full review by the patent office once a lawsuit has been brought. the lawsuit would not be allowed to proceed until a final determination has been made. that would seem to address the RIM case where the patents are well on their way to being rejected.
  • Please, let the patent cold war end. Let the hot war begin. I believe lawyers everywhere are very eager. They would earn a lot of money. I want to see Sun beat up Microsoft beat up IBM beat up ...

    Where is my popcorn?
  • by Moofie (22272) <<lee> <at> <ringofsaturn.com>> on Thursday April 06, 2006 @04:51PM (#15079683) Homepage
    OK, RIM, you liked patent law just fine when you were suing Handspring for having a tiny keyboard. But NOW it's time for Serious Patent Reform!

    Uh huh.
  • by cheesedog (603990) on Thursday April 06, 2006 @05:35PM (#15080117)
    Balsillie made an interesting point yesterday -- NTP spent $19 on postage to send out cease and desist letters to 47 companies. Because of the length of the claims in their 5 patents, it would cost each company roughly $200,000 just to respond to the claims (to consult with counsel to avoid willful infringement), which means that just by sending out those letters, NTP cost the economy a net $9 million bucks, and this is before ever stepping into court!

    To read the exact excerpt (where Balsillie made the point quite eloquently), read this [slashdot.org]

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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