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RIM Settles Long-Standing Blackberry Claim 295

David Jao writes "Research in Motion has agreed to pay 612.5 million dollars for a 'full and final settlement of all claims' resulting from the NTP patent lawsuit against the makers of BlackBerry. According to the article, the settlement is 'on the low end of expectations', perhaps because the patents in question had earlier been preliminarily ruled invalid by the US Patents & Trademarks Office." Many article submitters characterize this move as 'giving in' to NTP's tactics. What do you think?
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RIM Settles Long-Standing Blackberry Claim

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  • I'm confused... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:04PM (#14847104) Journal
    ...if the patents that based NTP's lawsuit were going to be ruled invalid, what was the basis for the settlement? Why didn't RIM just tell NTP to go fuck themselves and wait for the patent office to finish. No patent == no patent infringement == no lawsuit.
    • Re:I'm confused... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jarich ( 733129 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:07PM (#14847125) Homepage Journal
      I suspect that they were bleeding customers like crazy from all the bad publicity and the near shutdowns. I can't imagine how much stress their bean counters were under! ;)

      Also, do you really know that the patents were invalid? I haven't looked at it that closely.

    • ? Why didn't RIM just tell NTP to go fuck themselves and wait for the patent office to finish.

      Because the judge in the last ruling was really pissed off and stated the case never should have made it to the courts, and that RIM should have settled with NTP.

      For RIM to settle for so much, it means that they figured they'd lose even more. The judge basically tore them a new a55hol3
    • Re:I'm confused... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:08PM (#14847136)
      Simple. The uncertainty surrounding RIM was hurting their business and was going to continue to. By resolving the dispute sooner they keep many customers they might have lost and have a better chance of attracting more. NTP could have kept this dragging through the courts for years and possibly sunk RIM in the process. Gotta love corporate shakedowns.
      • that voids it and returns most of RIM's money in the event that the patents in suit are ruled invalid by the USPTO. If I were RIM, I'd reeeeally want a clause to that effect; then again, NTP is unlikely to be thrilled about that, so it's anyone's guess.
      • I suspect it was more a case of they don't feel confident of an overall favorable outcome of the case. 600 million dollars would have to be the difference between a long term loss in revenue or clearing their record. I don't think this settlement is going to be long remembered by potential customers. For the most part, the damage is already done.
    • Re:I'm confused... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TedTschopp ( 244839 )
      Well, the whole thing turns on the fact that RIM used smoke and mirrors on a software demo in the trail and basically lied to the judge. The Patents were being overturned becuase the federal government was putting pressure on the Patent Office to make the case 'go away.' Also the rulings on the Patents could be appealed in the patent office and then into federal courts.
    • Re:I'm confused... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shabbs ( 11692 )
      I think it came down to the fact that because they were found guilty previously in a lower court and that they had appealed all the way to the highest court possible, they could not appeal any further to get the charges thrown out based on the patent invalidations. So, the court would have to find them guilty and issue charges. Customers were getting ready to run and RIM wanted to prevent more bleeding. At least they (and their customers) don't every have to pay another dime to NTP.

      It seems really dumb. Why
    • The reason they settled is because the judge said that he wouldn't wait for the USPTO to issue final rulings on the patents before he granted the injunction to shut down Blackberry service. RIM thus faced: 1. the possibility that the PTO would ultimately uphold at least one of the patents; 2. the likely possibility that Blackberries would be shut down while the PTO review proceeded; 3. the possibility that they'd lose on their motion to remove the injunction if the PTO ruled the patents invalid; 5. the cert
  • by God Virus ( 91209 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:04PM (#14847105) Homepage
    This is ridiculous. Why should a company with only an idea and no product have any claim to over half a billion dollars? It's not like Blackberry stole their idea, right?
    • Blackberry wireless phone: (at least) $199.99

      Bad Press and market instability: $100 million+

      Patent Infringement Settlement Case: $612 million

      Sound of Silence from annoying company who may/may not have driven you out of business without settlement/payoff: Priceless

      If *somehow* they can use a credit card on this one, I want to know if they how much cash back or frequent flyer miles they get...
    • Well, yes it is exactly like Blackberry stole their idea. That is what patent infringement is.

      Whether it was an origninal idea that NTP should own exclusive rights to is another question.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:26PM (#14847582) Homepage
      I'm not in favor of NTP or anything, but the people who point out that NTP had no product are missing the point of patents.

      Suppose you invented the Blackberry. You. Right now. You have the idea. Now what? Do you have the financial backing to manufacture a million Blackberrys? Do you have the industry connections to go around and make deals with all the mobile carriers to get your service into people's hands? No. But it's still a good idea, so you want to go forward with it. That means finding potential partners and investors. But just talking to those people about it is spreading the idea around. Suppose you go to the mobile company and say, "I have these plans for this service, I'm going to call it Blackberry." What's stopping them from just making the service themselves and cutting you out of the picture completely?

      Your patent is.

      In an ideal world, that's what patents are for: protecting the little guy inventor from big business.
      • by DShard ( 159067 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:55PM (#14847708)
        Which is utter bunk. NTP came in after the fact, well after precedent and patented obviousness. These people had no product other than litigation. Their business plan was to sue successful companies.
            Now let's assume that you are the little guy. You come up with something utterly missing in the market. Let's call it middle management crack. So you patent it, build a company on it and become the "next big thing".
            During that time, a different company, comes in who doesn't actually make anything new or produce any products. What they do is buy "analysts" to come up with how your design is "not patented". Next they produce legalease to sue you for your unique business model. At no point have they ever had _one_ customer and now they sue you.

        This is what happened in this case. In an ideal world, people can not use the justice system to extort money from you.
        • .
          NTP is not one of the usual patent squatter cases, it's my understanding that in this case RIM is the big bad bully.

          NTP bought the patent from someone who actually did try and set up a business selling things very much like blackberries, but they did it in the early 90's.

          The ability of the very first inventor to sell his patent (after trying very very hard himself to make a go of it and not doing so well) is a fundamental part of what made the first inventor willing to invest so much time and energy into a
      • I've never looked at the specific claims in this case, but I think many people on slashdot are against patents as they are applied to software. Many people feel that patent law should not be applied to software. From a business perspective or the way the courts like to view computer stuff its a "product". As a computer scientist, its viewed as an algorithm... or more generally math. Everything we write can be proven correct with math and if someone patented how to calculate loan payments or the pythagorean theorem we'd have serious problems. Sometimes there is only a few possible ways to solve a problem from a practical standpoint. Should those few solutions be patented? Anyone interested in open source software, especially things like linux should see that software patents are a bad thing. In my example, the little guy is hurt because he can get handed a lawsuit for adding something to the linux kernel.

        Of course I know nothing about law. :)

        I still don't understand how someone can patent a genetic defect in blood. Isn't my wife prior art?
      • I believe the inventor, that owned all the patents that are being used to sue RIM, died about 3-4 years ago.

        What bothers me in this entire process is that NTP was composed entirely of the inventor and a lawyer. So for much of this case, it's been just a lawyer.

        The most foolish thing though is that I believe RIM could have settled this case for far smaller sum early on, but now its 600M and probably something similar again in lawyers fees and business damage.

        • What bothers me in this entire process is that NTP was composed entirely of the inventor and a lawyer. So for much of this case, it's been just a lawyer.

          Actually, Tom Campagna was around for most of this case. This case started in 2001 and he died in 2004, IIRC. And it hasn't just been the lawyer, Tom's widow inherited his interest in NTP. They've brought in more partners in order to have the capital to pursue the case, which has cost millions.

          The most foolish thing though is that I believe RIM could

      • Actually, the "making a product" issue is only a relatively modern claim. It used to be that all patent submissions required a working model to be submitted at the same time. The PTO got tired of storing everything, so gave up on it.

        What's stopping them from just making the service themselves and cutting you out of the picture completely?
        I don't know. It's the Microsoft Model (just ask Citrix, Symantec, etc). If you have a shit-hot application idea, Microsoft *will* eventually start competing against you, w
      • I do not agree with that.

        Let's say inventor A have the idea of a way of doing something. He patents it. Doesn't use it, and sit on it.

        Inventor B a bit later, wants to do the same thing and OH, strange thing, think of the same way of doing it! A & B never talked to each other, and just saw a problem, found the same solution. 1+1=2 right? if I ask you what should I add to 1 to get to 2? how many answers?

        - I think of the invention of a door with a handle. to open the door I have to push it so it ge
        • > 1+1=2 right? if I ask you what should I add to 1 to get to 2? how many answers?

          There's always more than one way to solve a problem.

          1+1 = 10 (base 2)
          1+1 = 1 (logical OR)
          1+1 = 0 (mod 2)

          The point is, you thought of the first way, so you get exclusive rights to that way. I liked the whole 1+1 thing, so I came up with 3 more ways, that are mine now.

          To keep this relevant, RIM should have said, "OK sure, you have those patents. We thought of a different way to do this. Bye." In fact, they did think of a
      • "I'm not in favor of NTP or anything, but the people who point out that NTP had no product are missing the point of patents."

        No, you are missing the point of patents. Patents are *not* property. They are a temporary privilege granted by the government for the sole purpose of stimulating creativity and productivity. If at any time they have opposite effect, the government can and should snatch them away.

      • How do we know that their patent actually worked if they didn't have a product for sale?
      • Big companies don't steal unproven ideas. They wait until you've made a ton of money off your idea, and THEN they steal it whether you have a patent or not. So, the real question is: do you want J. Randoms to be able to patent ideas which are already in the public domain (status quo), or would you rather live without those few ideas which require a huge up-front investment before they even begin to make money? I'd prefer the latter to having my ideas stolen (and I've already had my ideas stolen by a pate
    • I didn't pay attention to this case for quite a while because there's so much patent BS going around right now, and I don't use Blackberry anyways. Can someone please summarize what this is over? The article is very, very basic on the details.

      From a quick search, it sounds like the one company is based entirely off of patenting ideas and licensing them out (what some might call a "patent whore"). 5 of their patents happen to be related to some of RIM's technology, so they're suing. Can somebody (unbiased
  • 612.5 million?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BewireNomali ( 618969 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:04PM (#14847107)
    Low end of expectations? Wow. This justifies patent squatting to the unscrupulous looking for the cash-out.

  • Disappointed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPhIsH ( 560038 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:05PM (#14847115) Journal
    I'm pretty disappointed with this move by RIM. I was hoping that by going all the way through the courts we might get some serious patent reform out of the whole mess. While this brought a lot of attention to the issue, I fear that it will just go back to being business as usual at the patent office.
    • The problem is, for them to win they would have had to continue this farce for 2+ years.

      Hardly a good business decision to keep this going until the competition catches up.
      • The competition "caught up" long ago; RIM's products suck compared to Treo, Symbian, Hiptop, or even WinMobile.
        • The features and managability of blackberries with BES make it hands down the only choice for the security conscious enterprise. I can kill any of our blackberries, wipe the data, change the settings, change the password, lock the unit, all from my home. The CEO's BB got stolen? No problem, it has a 8 digit minimum password, locks itself every time it goes into the holster, and it's now useless. That is the features that sold us on them. The apps and OS, sure, others are ahead, but if they want to displace
          • Re:Disappointed (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
            With an 8 digit minimum password, how many people do you think have their password set to 12345678? That's kind of an annoying feature. Everytime you want to use it, you have to type in the password. I know it's more secure, but I'm sure a lot of their users find it annoying. If you have a good password, how many mistypes do you get on that tiny keyboard before it erases all your data?
    • You have to realise that once the patent office is completely finished with the NTP patents, and all options for appeals are over with, You can bet that RIM will be knocking on NTPs door, asking for that money back, plus interest.
      • I wouldn't count on it. RIM may have decided that they're better off paying for a patent license, then joining forces with NTP to sue the pants off anyone else that tries to offer a similer product/service. If RIM no longer pushes the patent office to invalidate NTP patents, then it is likely that they won't get invalidated, and that the ones that have had non-final (or even final) rejections will be reinstated on appeal.
    • Can I patent the method for extorting money out of a company that produces a product I dreamed up but never actually bothered to make? While I'm at it, I'm also going to patent the process for exchanging currency under a table like structure to encourage laws favourable to me making more money.
    • After shelling out $612M over this, spending another $100M on a massive PR campaign to get the public and Congress behind tearing up the whole patent system and starting over will seem like a gratuity.

      Keep in mind, the House and Senate (not to mention damn near every federal agency imaginable) use Blackberry, so they're already on their side and will probably be more than happy to make life $612M easier for RIM over time.
    • Re:Disappointed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:13PM (#14847516) Homepage
      I'm pretty disappointed with this move by RIM. I was hoping that by going all the way through the courts we might get some serious patent reform out of the whole mess

      This might not have been a good case for prompting patent reform. I haven't read the patents myself, but from the discussion on the TWiT podcast, they were saying that the patents actually looked pretty legitimate, and were only likely to be overturned because of the immense pressure the government was putting on to keep their Blackberries going.

      In other words, it's not clear that NTP is that bad guy here, and the RIM is the good guy.

  • No other choice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avalys ( 221114 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:05PM (#14847117)
    They had no other choice but to give in. There was an article in the WSJ today that talked about how many people were switching to competitor's products, just because of the uncertainty surrounding the Blackberry.

    It will be interesting to see how easily they recover from this.
  • Also this thought (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ot only is it "giving into" NTP, but it is also giving NTP 612.5 million "bullets" to go after anybody who transmits a message using a computer. Which they will do, because it is their business model to do so.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think I've gotta get me one of them patent thingies.
  • ...we could be next. Larry Lessig makes the point of saying that stuff like this and SCO is only the tip of the iceberg. We need patent reform. Larry Lessig urges people to spend say the equivalent of what you would spend supporting the copyright cartel on a monthly basis by giving to the org of your choice to fight this kind of stuff. So if your Comcast bill is $75.00, maybe you could squeeze out that much for the, etc.
    • I was flipping back and forth between Bloomberg and CNBC, and the anchors and analysts on both of those stations seemed to be questioning the whole 'patent portfolio' method of doing business, as well as the viability of these kinds of patents in general. It may be a good sign that some of them are waking up to the potential damage involved here.

      I am curious what will happen if the remaining patents are ruled invalid, though. Can shareholders then sue to overturn the deal and retrieve the money, taking on
  • Cash Money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by srchestnut ( 717652 )
    It's about money. RIM figured that it was going to cost them more than 612.5M for lawyers fees, lost revenue and the court decision. They did what was best for their company. We just have a crappy system for IP and judicial arbitration.
  • Sure they could fight it out and possiblu win in 8 years after all appeals are through but theyd be dead as a company,600 million is 1/3 of RIM's cash reserves for peace of mind.
    • IIRC, a lot of that cash reserve was already earmarked for a settlement -- it would have made sense to put aside about a half a billion since thay had a tentative deal for 450M at this time last year. So, the corporate books won't be hit too bad.

      As much as I despise NTP's "business", it was better for RIM to do the deal. Customer uncertainty and all that...
  • by morganew ( 194299 ) * on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:17PM (#14847202)
    The industry and millions of consumers are breathing a collective sigh of relief tonight.

    Despite averting a BlackBerry shutdown, however, this case is just more proof that the US Patent Office is in crisis. While some of NTP's patents may prove to be valid, it is clear that many of them should never have been granted in the first place.

    The US Patent Office's failure to ensure quality threatens the patent system that is so critical to innovative small tech firms. If the quality of patents is not improved, the industry may lose faith in the entire system.

    Some may not like software patents, but the reality is that companies have them. Open Source Champion IBM is the single largest patenter in the WORLD. they still make billions (with a b) off of patent licensing - including software/method patent licensing. Small companies like 'slingbox' have patents to ensure that they get VC funding and to prevent Sony from just creating the exact same product and steamrolling them.

    I, along with Diane Peters from OSDL, Bruce Perens, lawyers from IBM and others got together at the USPTO last month to talk about ways to improve patent quality. No solutions yet, but some good discussion.

    The quality issue MUST be solved, and NOW; so before you launch into a general "patents suck" rage, take a reality check and think about ways to get more prior art into the patent system and improve the quality.

    It will be several years before patent reform legislation becomes law, so we are going to to have to find technology solutions that we can implement now, and hope that legislation fixes the things we can't.

    Morgan Reed
    • take a reality check and think about ways to get more prior art into the patent system and improve the quality.

      I think maybe you need the reality check buddy. A biggest problem here is tha ideas that us geniuses dismiss as inconsequential are now finding themselves wrapped in a shiny new patent. So, what, every night, after tinkering with my latest geek proj, should I print out my diff's and get them notorized and mailed to the uspto? I dont think getting art INTO the system will work. You need to cha
    • What PTO people did you speak with?; What ideas were thrown around, and which, as far as you could tell, seemed to get a positive reception?

      From my experience there, plus from what I have heard from former colleagues the management reaction to quality criticism has been things like enhanced "quality review" and additional policies such as "second pair of eyes" that provided little extra substantive value but end up cutting into the time available to productively work on applications.

      If upper management is s
    • Stop the nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:00PM (#14847969) Homepage
      " along with Diane Peters from OSDL, Bruce Perens, lawyers from IBM and others got together at the USPTO last month to talk about ways to improve patent quality. No solutions yet, but some good discussion."

      Why don't you get together to discuss the fact that most of the significant discoveries in computers, information and software fields came about before software patents.

      And if you want to quibble with me, fine, but answer this: If software patents were important to drive innovation in the high-tech industry, then how did some many great pieces of software get written in the days before software patents?

      Let's not pretend that software patents are an old, time-tested way of protecting software. They're not, they're less than 10 years old. So rather than accept a relatively recent ruling by a court (Not even a law from congress), why don't we do the right thing and stop software patents. The fact that the courts lowered the bar so that nonobviousness was no longer the primary determinant of whether a patent should be granted should be reason enough to get rid of them.

      Name something... anything out there in the market that was only possible because of software patents. The idea of these patents isn't to make NTP rich simply because of knowing how to game the system, but to advance the state of the art. These patents aren't doing that; if anything, they're doing the opposite.

      I'm opposed to coming together and working out an arrangement because it presupposes these patents are acceptable. They are not. Software patents are so tremendously wrong that I think they're something that have to be opposed on general principal.
    • I, along with Diane Peters from OSDL, Bruce Perens, lawyers from IBM and others got together at the USPTO last month to talk about ways to improve patent quality. No solutions yet, but some good discussion.

      The quality issue MUST be solved, and NOW; so before you launch into a general "patents suck" rage, take a reality check and think about ways to get more prior art into the patent system and improve the quality.

      I've yet to talk to anybody on Slashdot who had the slightest clue what patent quality mean

  • I think most people who use Blackberries are complete and utter asshats.

    If they're not top posting, dropping attachments, or bitching because they can't see the website (the one they told to be designed for IE and damn everyone else), they're pounding away on that thing in meetings, giving everyone else half their attention.

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless Blackberry. Because I'm a fucking tool.
  • by coljac ( 154587 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:35PM (#14847326) Homepage
    Despite RIM's unethical courtroom tactics (which backfired spectacularly), I can't help but be very disappointed by this decision. SIX HUNDRED MILLION dollars - a staggering sum - to be paid to these guys, for what? No hard work, no product, no contribution to science and technology. It's extortion, and I don't even understand the leverage they used given their patents are invalid. If I was the CEO of RIM (ignoring the realities of fiduciary duties to shareholders) I would rather go bankrupt than let the patent trolls become wealthy from my hard work.

    The one good thing to come of this is it has raised the problem in the public eye. Congressmen thought they would lose their Blackberries. Let's hope some real reform is on the way.

    • I'm not saying that you're wrong, but for those of us who haven't been following this case that closely, could you give a bit more detail on what "unethical courtroom tactics" RIM tried, and how they backfired?
    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:31PM (#14848092) Homepage Journal
      It would be disapointing except for the context.

      First, you never lie or piss off a judge. Doing so is simply a sign of great incompetance, and when on does this anything short of total humiliation is a generous punishment. in this case, the judge did not want to deal with these fools any longer, and just wanted the parties to work it out.

      Second, this stuff should not have gone to court. Again, given the incompetent behavior of RIM, I can only assume the entire negotiations were handled badly. Perhaps RIM thought they were a multibillion dollar company, so they could just intimidate the small party. Perhaps they can, but it always better to take the high road in these situations, expecailly when dealing with a widow. Instead of fighting and lying and trying to invalidate the patents, an initial payment might have been in order. I have no idea what went on behind doors, but, again, given the public record these people just seemed really stupid.

      And finally, the 600 million must be taken in context. This is like a years EBITDA, and who knows what it will actually mean to RIM after the tax accountants get done. And, since they have been effectivelty saving for a few years, the impact on this year is like 2 months EBITDA.

      So, I am not saying that the payment in the best situation, but given RIM lied in court, continued to anger the judge during negotiations, and was clearly trying to play a waiting game, probably hoping that the parties would continue to die off, it was not a horrible outcome.

      A couple more thing to put this in context. I recall an invention, perhaps the steam engine and Watts, that was not fully patented because it borrowed patented technology and it was easier to hide the technology than share the credit. In the end this left the inventor wide open for the product to be copied. The inventor would likely have been better off making the technology transparent, honestly fighting the patent, and probably winning in the end.

      The second case is standard insurance industry practice, which is reminiscent of what RIM was trying to do. In most settlements, the insurance company will withhold all payments, even in the most open a shut cases. They will offer a fraction of what the policy would indicate. The injured party can either accept the token payment, or wait the statuatory three years to file suit. The insurance company usually ends up the winner as most people cannot self fund the recovery effort, or the insurance company rightly states that the cost of litigation will be greater than the present settlement. RIM was playing exactly this game, and it is probabl as sad they they won at this game as it is that NTP won at the orignal patent dispute.

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:38PM (#14847346) Homepage
    is a patent troll with $600M in the bank.
  • Surely, this is quite profitable, and IT'S ALL LEGAL.
  • by rdean400 ( 322321 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:55PM (#14847442)
    The action to invalidate NTP's patents continues, so NTP won't be able to do this to other vendors. The flawed legal & patent systems led to this resolution. RIM basically had two choices: 1) risk the injunction (which would have been a death sentence for the Blackberry business, no matter what workarounds they had) or 2) pay them to shut up, and rest easy knowing the customers won't be left high and dry because of an injunction.
  • by Emor dNilapasi ( 455542 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @08:59PM (#14847459)
    This couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of bottom-feeding scumbuckets. Don't forget that RIM (or "Lawsuits in Motion" as El Reg dubbed them) was the <multiple nasty adjectives> group of clowns who sued Palm and others for daring to infringe on their breathtakingly innovative concept of putting a little keyboard on a PDA. Screw 'em. Screw 'em right up the arse with a pile-driver, 10 metres of razor wire, and a bottle of vinegar. And whether you love software patents or hate them, this event is a rare conjunction of equal parts schadenfreude and poetic justice.

    Now we just have to wait a few years for the NTP <descriptions containing far too much vitriol to ever be displayed publicly> to get their peckers handed to them in thin slices. It'll be worth it.
    • I don't give a rat's ass about RIMM.

      But, I'm a bit concerned about the system. The entire patent system seems to be nothing but a game. It has nothing to do with who actually invented anything. It has nothing to do with protecting rights.

      When the innovators can't make money; they will stop trying. And that is the end of the USA as an economic power. Think about it: manufacturing is long since dead in the USA. Now engineering and software development are going overseas. Technical support is also being off-sh
  • By settling, RIM now has a license to "patented" technology. So their competitors still have to worry about patents claimed by NTP (and RIM). If RIM had kept fighting to the end and actually won they (and their competitors) would have no IP claim to the technology.
  • by lmlloyd ( 867110 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:30PM (#14847599)
    I love how the big company always gets the benefit of the doubt in today's corporate-loving world.

    The founder of NTP had many years of wireless experience, and developed many technologies that moved wireless messaging forward. When RIM showed up on the scene, he sent them (as well as some other companies) a few letters to inform them that they were infringing on his patents. RIM ignored the letters, and continued doing business as though they had never heard of this guy. He didn't sue, he just chalked it up to a losing battle that there was nothing he could do anything about.

    Then he saw a story about how RIM was suing other companies out of existence using patents that were infringing on HIS patents. At that point he figured it was time to try and get a big law firm involved, and went after RIM. He died of cancer before this whole court case was ever finished, but I am glad to hear his family will be well off.

    The fact of the matter is, this never would have even happened if RIM hadn't started the whole thing by employing predatory practices with their dubious patents to drive competition out of business in the first place. I have no sympathy for RIM at all. They flat out lied in court, and were busted for it, they used some pretty questionable lobbying practices to get NTP patents invalidated, and they have practiced far more dubious patent extortion than NTP ever did. I don't think this is a case of a fine, upstanding company getting a shakedown by a troll. This is a case of pretty sweet karma in action!
    • Your post needs some modding up, it's the only one I see that actually goes into this point. I'm a bit surprised of the slashdot crowd being so pro-RIM here, maybe it's an allergic reaction to patents and patent-farming companies in general.

      Apparently, NTP had valid patent claims (orignally developed for the Telefind company, not just 'ideas') that were ignored by RIM (as NTP is just a 2-people company, why should RIM care?) when NTP confronted them with this in 2001. NTP had the right to set this through

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @09:41PM (#14847652) Homepage Journal
    This didn't solve anything. If anything it made things worse. I didn't see *ANY* reporting that the flawed patent system was at fault.

    All I heard from the mainstream news media was the Blackberry was being sued, and now they settled for $600 Million, so, in my mind, they must have been at fault.

    Furthermore, this payment will embolden other patent trolls who want to be fed to the tune of millions for doing nothing.

    And the Patent System will go merrily on it way, because now that Senators can use their Blackberries again, do you think they are going to give a tinker's damn that the system is flawed?

    If I'd been running Blackberry, I'd have shut down service for 24 hours, with the message "we can't provide service due to a flawed patent system.".

    Does anybody here remember the day everyone made their webpages BLACK as a protest? Does anybody remember when it was OKAY to fight back against something that was wrong? Now it seems, the M.O. is to give up, pay the bastards and lick your wounds, regardless of who's right or wrong.

    In fact, the more wrong you are, the harder you should fight, it seems, because these days, the good guy always loses. (RIAA anyone?)

    What a wonderful lesson to teach our younger people.
    George Lucas should make a movie on that subject.

    So this is how freedom dies. With a $600 Million payout.

    A disgusted and concerned old-timer.
    • Does anybody here remember the day everyone made their webpages BLACK as a protest? Does anybody remember when it was OKAY to fight back against something that was wrong? Now it seems, the M.O. is to give up, pay the bastards and lick your wounds, regardless of who's right or wrong.

      Well, when all those gestures came to nought, what else was there to do? You'll notice that despite all the fighting, bad patents keep getting issued at an astonishing rate, the Communications Decency Act has been reauthorized

  • "$612 million for patents that don't have to be valid. I think I can do that."

    Get ready for the floodgates.
  • by feijai ( 898706 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:01PM (#14847743)
    1. Worked so hard to run its competitors out of the market with lawsuits that The Register nicknamed it "Lawsuits in Motion" []
    2. Ignored all entreaties from NTP for a year, forcing NTP to eventually sue them.
    3. Lied in court so often that they received three-times punative damages just for their court conduct alone, plus attorneys' fees.
    4. Gave Congress free Blackberries as a tactic to get them hooked, then
    5. (Successfully) Lobbied Congressmen to put big-time pressure on the USPTO to invalidate NTP's patents while the court case was ongoing (can you say "cut off their air supply"?), regardless of their actual validity. In the US, if you're doing something illegal, you can always get the law changed if you have enough money. Even if you're a foreign company.
    6. Tried to push through a congressional resolution that shutting down the Blackberry network would be a "threat to national security" because of the free Blackberries they'd hooked the feds on.
    7. (Successfully) Lobbied the Canadian government to weigh in as if this were a matter of international concern.
    8. Purposely delayed resolution until after NTP's original inventor died.

    This company deserves to go straight to hell. $612 million is a rap on the knuckles.

    • Lied in court so often that they received three-times punative damages

      I think you are passing on unsubstantiated hearsay. From what I can tell, the judge claimed that RIMM faked the prior art, which flies in the face of the fact that the patent office later invalidated the patents based on the prior art.
  • Now there won't be a need for crackberry withdrawl support groups.
  • by wavedeform ( 561378 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @10:17PM (#14847814)
    Righteousness has next to nothing to do with a case like this. Having a cloud over your business is _very_ expensive. Lawyers, etc. for a case like this are _very_ expensive. It costs _so_ much to fight a case like this, that, even if you think you will eventually prevail, it is often cheaper to settle.

    I was recently involved in a patent fight, where we had comprehensive prior art, and were really convinced that we were going to prevail eventually, but between getting to trial in the first place, and the resultant inevitable appeals, it was cheaper to settle. It made my skin crawl, but we did it anyway.

    Also, remember that juries on cases like this are not technologists who will readily understand a complex technological argument, but "peers" who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

  • by waldo2020 ( 592242 ) on Friday March 03, 2006 @11:41PM (#14848135)
    Actually, Campana's company Telefind did have working products, albeit prototypes, exhibited at Comdex in 1990. There weren't terrible reliable - as the networks weren't either, only one way email to pagers but they worked. AT&T was online as primary customer but ducked out leaving Telefind high and dry. Campana inherited tha patents after a lawsuit against Telefind."Mr. Narayanan liked Telefind's products, thinking they might fit well with the Safari project. AT&T had an e-mail system and a prototype computer; what it lacked was a paging service that could put the two together. But after a year of flirting with Telefind, even demonstrating Telefind's system at the Comdex computer show in Las Vegas, AT&T opted for a larger partner in Skytel." RIM's 800 and 900 series pagers were released in 1990 - well after Telefind. Mind you they were true 2-way pagers operating on Motorola's wireless packet Mobitel network. What brought on the NTP lawsuit was RIM's own arrogance in suing othe companies like Palm for having the audacity to incorporate tiny keyboards in their products. C'mon RIM! Who's the troll now?

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