Monday, November 21, 2005

BlackBerry v. NTP Update

If you are following our coverage of the BlackBerry patent case, you may find an article by the Associated Press interesting. Here are a few quotes for your enjoyment:
"I have spent enough of my time and life involved with NTP and RIM," [U.S. District Judge James R.] Spencer said. [...] If Spencer is frustrated, few people would blame him. Patent challenges are proliferating. And this case has been especially time-consuming, even in a court that prides itself on its speed in dealing with litigation.


Robert Kerton, an economics professor at University of Waterloo in Canada, says the case demonstrates the need to reform the patent system, allowing real producers to get down to business.

"But don't hold your breath," he said, "because thousands of attorneys really love the tangled system."

The Canadian government, too, is incredulous. Earlier this year, it filed a brief in a U.S. appeals court, claiming that the lower court's decision could have a "chilling" effect on innovation by Canadian companies.


NTP is often portrayed as a so-called "patent troll," a company with no products and little infrastructure. These predatory companies amass patent portfolios with the intent of filing suits against legitimate businesses. They have become many corporations' nightmares.
But from the court's opinion, things aren't so cut-and-dried,
"RIM's infringement was clear," Spencer wrote in one opinion. "Indeed, it offered no real defense to NTP's infringement case at trial."
The article goes on to discuss what possible outcomes would look like. The complete shutdown of the BlackBerry network is still entirely possible, but unlikely. It would be interesting, however -- if the RIM network were shut down tomorrow, how many BlackBerry users would suddenly become interested in patent system abuses, and be willing to write to their senators and representatives?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the midst of charges and counter-charges in the RIM/BlackBerry case, the central issue may become lost. RIM is a foreign multinational corporation found by the courts to have expropriated American inventions for their own gain. Foreign company theft of American innovation is widespread. This is a serious, on-going threat to America's economic and national security and the RIM/BlackBerry case is a clear example.
Americans should be screaming for justice, starting with an injunction against RIM and a phased replacement of BlackBerry with Palm or alternative U.S.-invented devices.
As a matter of equitable public policy, it is time for all branches of American government and law enforcement to get rid of their BlackBerrys and replace them with an American product and service such as the Palm and the NTP licensed "Good Technologies" service which does the same tasks as the BlackBerry.
It is increasingly difficult for smaller inventors and patent holders to counter the marketing and legal strategies of bigger businesses, especially those financed by outside interests. And again, the RIM/BlackBerry case perfectly illustrates this practice. It is almost impossible to believe that a large, well-financed company like RIM failed to research all prior art in the patent system before bringing the BlackBerry to market.
The courts found that RIM squatted on another's property and when they were caught, this large multinational corporation could have negotiated reasonable compensation to lease the use of the property. But RIM took the low road. RIM mobilized a massive legal, PR and lobbying effort to paint the victims as abusers: RIM attempted to gain the upper hand against NTP while promoting the argument that the original patent holder, and smaller company, really asked for it. After all, NTP's technology was very desirable.
The argument is compelling. Every time an American patent protects a desirable innovation, it is bad policy and poor economics to stand by and allow larger multi-nationals to infringe on that patent and then steamroll the smaller company with a media and legal blitz that the smaller company is unable to counter.
In this instance, RIM has abused patent re-examination to try and break NTP. Not on the merits, but break them with punitive costs associated with the new adversarial reexamination procedures which at this point is something on the order of thirty separate re-examination requests.
There are many aspects to this particular case which can be explored and debated.
The facts in this case have become muddied with charges and counter charges and misleading reports, but fairness demands that the media, the public and government agencies honor the intent of the patent system to protect American inventors and innovation.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Jackson Lenford said...

Nice use of diversion; your argument is based on nationalism, not on the merits of the patents involved in this case. But even the most fervent patriot won't be stirred by flawed logic.

The facts in the case are these: the USPTO has issued a pre-final determination that all 5 NTP patents should be invalidated. The judge in the trial, meanwhile, has chosen to ignore the USPTO and try to force a settlement or impose a shutdown of the BlackBerry network.

This has nothing to do with American innovation being stolen by large foreign internationals. It has everything to do with abuse and corruption of the US patent system. As a patriotic American, you should be against corruption and for reforms that make our system fair, just, and reasonable.

(I'll leave it to other commentors to point out the problems with your proposal to do a phased replacement of the BlackBerry, but will point out that in a free market system, we don't force consumers to buy products based on the geography in which they are manufactured or designed. That's communism you were thinking of).

7:42 AM  

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