Last week the US Patent Office took the surprising step of reaching out and calling both RIM and NTP to let them know that it's very, very likely to reject all of NTP's patents at the heart of the excruciatingly long patent battle with RIM. This was extremely important because the judge in the patent lawsuit had said that he wouldn't wait for the Patent Office's ruling, mainly because he was sick of dealing with the case (who knew that impatience was a reasonable reason for ignoring important evidence and pushing a billion dollar fine?). So, now, the two parallel timelines become much more important. The companies are supposed to file documents with the court by February 1, 2006 -- and the judge is expected to rule soon afterwards. As for the patent review process, NTP was supposed to get its response in by the end of this month, but has managed to squeeze out a 30-day extension meaning it won't have to file the response until the nearly the same date as when the judge will make his decision. While NTP denies it's dragging out the process, it's clearly in the company's interest to do so. Still, we wonder how the judge can, in good conscience, still move forward with the case when the Patent Office has clearly stated that it believes it made a huge mistake in originally granting these patents. Meanwhile, it still seems like a reasonable question as to whether RIM can sue the Patent Office for its admitted negligence in issuing these patents (though, of course, they might want to wait until the patents are really rejected).
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