At the end of last month, U.S. Appeals Court Judge James Spencer denied BlackBerry maker Research in Motion’s request to delay a ruling on the NTP vs. RIM patent infringement case until after the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office delivers it’s final ruling on if the patents that RIM was initially found guilty on are even valid. Whats even worse is that the USPTO’s preliminary rulings on all the patents and a more recent but not final ruling on one of the patents is that the patents are invalid. To make a long story short, Research in Motion may be forced into a settlement with NTP over patents that may not actually exist.
Unfairly and unfortunately for RIM they will be forced into settling with NTP. Not to do so would more than likely result in the shutdown of BlackBerry service in the United states. Allowing BlackBerry service to be shut down would be considered corporate suicide.
If this were a criminal case, we wouldn’t even be talking about it because no prosecutor would have even taken the case to trial due to the lack of evidence. Lets say that you start a dog walking service. Everyday for years you walk dogs through a public park until all of a sudden one day, you are notified that you are trespassing on private property. Because of poor due diligence on the part of some government agency, the company that is suing has actually acquired a deed to the park stating that it is theirs. Everyone knows that it is a bad deed and that it will eventually invalidated, however your court date for trespassing comes up before the government definitively says that the park you walk dogs through every day is in fact public property.
The judge ruling over the case knows that the government has already issued a preliminary finding that the company that is suing you does not actually own the park and it is indeed public property. In fact, the day of one of your hearing, the government issues another ruling (not final) that the park is public property. The judge boldly tells you that he doesn’t care and that new evidence in your favor really has no bearing on his decision.
Sounds like the little guy is getting the shaft doesn’t it? Well the same thing is happening to Research in Motion. It shouldn’t matter that they really are not the little guy and print their own money. Fair is fair.