I have a question about if RIM and NTP were to settle over the patent infringement case where the BlackBerry maker was found guilty on five counts of patent infringement.
It looks very likely that RIM will settle with NTP because U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer has become increasingly impatient with both RIM and NTP and doesn’t plan on waiting on the U.S. Patents Office to chime in with it’s final ruling on the validity of the patents in the first place. Remember, the U.S. Patents office rejected all eight of NTP’s patents so now there is a somewhat lengthy appeals process that both NTP and RIM have to go through. If judge Spencer doesn’t wait on those proceedings to complete and rules on the evidence before him, he may tell RIM to settle with NTP or face and injunction.
My question is if RIM settles with NTP and pays them anywhere from $450 million to $1 billion dollars to make this problem go away, what happens if a few months down the road the U.S. Patents Office upholds its finding that NTP’s patents are invalid? If I were NTP, I would definitely try to make sure that any agreement reached would not be contingent on any rulings from the Patents Office. I don’t know if that is legal but I definitely go that route if it were. It seems to me that RIM may have to shell out a boat load of money for a settlement over patents that don’t actually exist. (Correction, we did say $450 million to $1 billion… This is more like a super oil tanker load of money)
If this turns out to be the case, it would really suck for RIM investors.