As expected, RIM has settled its patent suit with NTP by paying the company $612.5 million to settle all the claims against it, and for a full license of NTP's patents. Certainly RIM is glad to get this behind it, also noting today that the uncertainty of the case's outcome will hit the current quarter's earnings. The license covers all of NTP's patents, and puts not only RIM, but also its carrier and device partners in the clear. While the court case against RIM has been dismissed, the one thing that nobody's talking about is what will happen should the Patent Office finally reject all of NTP's patents and its appeals prove fruitless -- does RIM gets its $600 million back and an "I'm sorry"? Update by Mike: Looks like the Wall Street Journal is one of the few who actually found out about what happens down the road -- and have updated the link above to say there is no contingency for return payments or a new lawsuit, should the USPTO eventually find the patents invalid -- as has been looking increasingly likely. In fact, RIM's Jim Balsillie says he would have paid more to have such a contingency, but it appears NTP wasn't interested (suggesting that even they know how weak their stance is on these patents). The overall deal may have made business sense in the end for RIM (whose stock is way up, and whose sales will likely improve without the uncertainty over its head), but it's highlighted in very real terms what a travesty the patent system has become these days. The company that does nothing gets rich and the company that innovated is slowed down.
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