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NTP's Latest Patent Shakedown Must Wait For USPTO; Why Wasn't RIM Given The Same Consideration?

from the innovation-at-work dept

Even if you just have a passing interest in the topic of patents, you've probably heard of the RIM-NTP case. That's where NTP, a company that ended up with some excessively broad and obvious patents after the inventor was unable to build a product anyone actually wanted to buy, sued RIM, the makers of the wildly successful Blackberry device, claiming patent infringement. The attention the case got caused the US Patent Office to look closely at the patents, and very publicly state that it was rejecting NTP's patents, as they never should have been issued in the first place. However, rather than waiting for the official patent review process to work itself out, the judge in the case pressured the two sides to settle, forcing RIM to cough up $612.5 million for no good reason. It never made sense that the judge refused to wait for the Patent Office to finish its review -- especially since the office had been so public in questioning the validity of the patents.

NTP took its winnings and immediately started looking for others to sue while the patents were still valid. It started with Palm, makers of the Treo. However, in that case, the judge realized what was going on and put the case on hold until the USPTO could make a final decision on the validity of the patents. Not willing to standstill, NTP sued all the national US mobile operators (Sprint, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile) for selling devices like the Blackberry and the Treo. Once again, though, it looks as though a judge realizes that it's ridiculous for such a case to go forward when the USPTO has expressed so much skepticism towards the patents. Against Monopoly lets us know that the judge for the Sprint, Verizon and AT&T case has also put the case on hold until the USPTO is done. What no one wants to explain, however, is why RIM wasn't afforded the same opportunity?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    The judge who didn't wait ...

    .. was bought out. Simple. Occams Razor (spelling?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    ScaredOfTheMan, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:48pm

    Cause RIM is from Canada

    Those poor guys never stood a chance, they were raised much too polite and with funny accents ;)

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    MikeR, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    Very simple - RIM is a Canadian company, other companies in current suits are American.

     

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  4.  
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    sonofdot, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

    It's simple

    RIM is a Canadian company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Eric the Grey, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    Two possible reasons...

    One, the judge in the RIM case now has a lot of extra spending cash available to him or her

    Two, he/she didn't want to deal with a SCO-type of case and took the easy way out.

    Either way, I would think that once the patent is found invalid, RIM should be able to appeal the ruling.


    EtG

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    another mike, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:08pm

    hook or crook

    RIM should appeal the settlement now, or charge NTP with the biggest case of grand larceny in history.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    RevMike, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:12pm

    Simple answer

    The answer is very simple, and has nothing to do with the judge being bought off or RIM being Canadian.

    RIM tried to pull a fast one during the litigation. They knowingly presented faked evidence. They were caught. At that point, the judge made damn sure that anything left to his discretion was going to go against RIM.

    Don't cry for RIM, they did it to themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:40pm

    I don't think RIM is getting any money back.

    I'm pretty sure that at the time of the "settlement" it was reported that part of the "settlement" was that RIM agreed to forgo claims to the $600+ million even if the patents were eventually overturned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Le Blue Dude, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:59pm

    Heh

    If I was a judge, and NTP was trying that, I would push for a settlement of "Five dolars, a frappicheno at starbucks, and a pat on the head"

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Retards !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Hey, morons, why don't you donate your brains to feed hungry children ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Overcast, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Yeah, if it doesn't make sense otherwise....

    Follow the money trail :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Heh


    a frappicheno at starbucks


    What? You know how much those things cost? I think I'll take my chances with the $600 million.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Bigpicture, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 5:55pm

    You don't know? RIM is a Canadian company. Then they wonder why the rest of the World is prejudiced against the US. That is because the US is self centered and prejudiced against the rest of the World. If its not American it's no good. But I prefer "Made in China" where the sun is rising, and setting on the US.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Zombie, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Retards !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yesss ... brains

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:32pm

    Re:

    "But I prefer "Made in China" where the sun is rising, and setting on the US."

    What lead you to that conclusion ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re:

    The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Watch it tomorrow if you don't believe me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 9:14pm

    Sorry to pick nits...

    but it is BlackBerry, not Blackberry.

    No, I do not have a RIM job, but I play one on YouTube.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Ferin, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 4:42am

    If memory serves...

    I seem to recall RIM helped dig their own grave during the case, what with the attempt to demonstrate that they'd made a workaround that didn't workaround a damn thing. Bad patents aside, RIM shot itself in the foot during trial, so I wasn't all that surprised to see the judge push a settlement. They were lucky he didn't try and jam them up on actual charges for trying to lie in court.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Denis, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 4:51am

    Rims lied?

    I would love to see where you read that. Because I am Canadian and that was a huge thing here so I watched the news and followed court news on it and not once was it ever mentioned that RIMS lied or gave fabricated evidence.

    The reason Rims got screwed in this is because the Judge did not want to wait and never gave any reason as to why. If the courts had waited, you know that the settlement would not have been given.

    But also part of it is is that it was a Canadian Company and in the US they try to temper the IT companies that try to work in the US that are foreign

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Whooosh (the sound of a comment going over your head)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Heh, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 5:18am

    Re: Retards !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (sing to the tune of Popeye the Sailor Man)

    I'm AD the angry dude,
    I'm always in a bad mood.
    I shill IP for all to see,
    cause I'm AD the angry dude.

    uh-oh, am I now headed to the gallows for copyright infringement ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 10:09am

    Re: Rims lied?

    Apparently what happened was RIM were demonstrating an old wireless system as an example of prior art. NTP's counsel pointed out that the compile date on the executable file was more recent than the date RIM was saying that the system had been in operation. The Judge blew a gasket and accused RIM of running a fraud on the court. RIM tried to explain that the executable had been reoompiled from older source code but the Judge would not listen to them or did not understand the difference between source and executable - end of case.

    The reason that the courts are giving more leeway to current defendants is that the pushback from some of the things said in NTP vs. RIM (like the Judge saying in effect that his time was too important to waste on the case) has been so severe that combined with what was happening at the Supreme Court the Federal Circuit became concerned over the (well deserved) damage to its credibility. At the final substantive hearing in the NTP v. RIM case the judge's behavior and comments were disgraceful. Afterwards the whole court was facing and still faces the possibility that the USPTO will ultimately rule that the Court strong armed RIM into paying $612 Million on worthless patents. If the Federal Court had not smartened up either Congress or the Supreme Court was going to clean house on them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Jake (profile), Nov 10th, 2007 @ 8:09am

    The difference in the case is that since RIM was sued, the Supreme Court made a significant ruling on another patent case. This was absolutely expected to happen in the future, because that's how SCOTUS wrote the decision.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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