You might remember a little company called NTP. You've never used an NTP product, nor ever paid them for any services. In spite of that, last year they earned more than $600 million -- by virtue of their patent infringement settlement with RIM. They failed at bringing their mobile email system to market, and once the BlackBerry took off, they saw a chance to get rich and ride on the coattails of the company that actually innovated and made mobile email successful. One of the biggest problems during the lawsuit was that the Patent Office was proceeding towards invalidating NTP's patents, since they're both unoriginal and obvious. This was such a problem in the RIM-NTP case because the judge wasn't willing to delay the case until the Patent Office issued its final rulings -- and RIM's settlement has no contingencies should the patents be invalidated, so it's out the $612 million either way. Where things get odd is that the very same judge has ruled that NTP's similar suit against Palm is on hold until the USPTO rules. While the judge has taken the correct step in this case, it's hard to see why he wouldn't do the same thing in the RIM case, since the USPTO was well down the path of rejecting the patents by the time the settlement was reached.
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