RIM Pays Out Again Over Patents

from the how-dare-you-try-to-do-wireless-email dept

The patent battle between RIM and NTP is considered something of landmark in alerting politicians and the general public to just how ridiculous the patent situation is these days. There was, however, an interesting sidenote on this. As part of its attempt to show that its own patents were valid, NTP convinced a couple other companies to "license" the patents -- except the details showed that NTP "invested" in each of these companies at the same time. That certainly looks like NTP paying a company to license its patents, just to make it looks like there were some legitimate licensees. Two of the companies that NTP did this with were Visto and Good Technology. Having licensed NTP's patents, Visto, at least, took a lesson from NTP and became an aggressive player in the patent lawsuit game, trying to mimic NTP's success by suing RIM as well.

There is no way to describe this other than sour grapes. Visto tried to play in the market and was a pretty big (and massively expensive) failure. RIM, on the other hand, was able to create a product that people wanted and build a good business on it. This wasn't by copying Visto's (or NTP's) ideas, but better understanding the actual market and creating a good product itself. Visto failed to do that. So, in turn, it just sued and demanded cash from the company that was able to innovate. Recently, Visto also purchased Good Technology (another NTP licensee) from Motorola (who had purchased it earlier), likely adding more patents to the portfolio.

Either way, it looks like RIM has finally grown tired of the game and has agreed to pay Visto $267.5 million. It's less than the amount NTP got, but it's still a hefty chunk of change. And, for what? For being the loser in the market place. This is a tax on innovation. The loser in the marketplace forces the winner to hand over a nice chunk of profits. It's bad for everyone (except some lawyers and Visto shareholders).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Richard, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 3:52pm

    WHHAAT!!!

    That's UNREAL why the hell would they do that? It's going to lead packs of trolls to their doorstep??

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    lance_, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    Re: WHHAAT!!!

    Cheaper than fighting it. And the patents are on their way to being invalidated, so the other trolls would have to act quickly.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    OldGeek, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    Always knew it

    I've always known Canadians weren't too bright but this just takes the cake!!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    Inventors Marketers

    Shouldn't inventors get paid, too.

    Marketers can't invent (they're generally not smart enough), but they can get paid by "stealing" someone else's invention.

    Inventors can't market (they're generally too smart and marketing pitches repulse them), but they cannot get paid at all no matter what.

    Nice world, Mike. I suppose you are a marketer, not an inventor.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 4:23pm

    Re: Inventors Marketers

    Mike still pretty much seems to think that taking something and slapping a new coat of paint on it (or remixing a song) is some major new innovation and accomplishment.

    After a while, you can spot the direction of his posts from a mile back.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Inventors Marketers

    Shouldn't inventors get paid, too.

    Sure they can. If they build a product that the market wants. We should not be rewarding failure.

    Marketers can't invent (they're generally not smart enough), but they can get paid by "stealing" someone else's invention.

    Ok. Let's be 100% clear: NO ONE here thinks that RIM "stole" anyone else's invention. Everyone admits that RIM came up with its ideas independently.

    And, it's wrong that "marketers can't invent." I'm not sure why you'd say that.

    Inventors can't market

    I'd argue that's not even close to true either.

    but they cannot get paid at all no matter what.

    Generalize much?

    Are you honestly suggesting that the world is better off when companies that fail in the marketplace get to take cash from those that succeed? This is not about "inventors or marketers." RIM and Visto had plenty of both types of people.

    But Visto failed. So why do they get paid for failing?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Always knew it

    bite me.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    re: A C

    take you whiney ass and go home

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    Hey Mike, I think you are confusing patents with products. A patent/process/technology may be part of a product rather than being the product itself.

    For example, the iPod from Apple and the Zune from Microsoft both play MP3 music files. The iPod is more successful in the market place than the Zune. The process/technology of decoding MP3 files has the same value in both products.

    There are MP3 player products that have failed. It is perfectly reasonable that a great technology still has value after having been in a product that failed.

    Having said that I think RIM really did develop its technology independently and should not have to 'license' anything. Settling is probably the best choice for them at this point, they need to focus on their business not their legal problems.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    "Are you honestly suggesting that the world is better off when companies that fail in the marketplace get to take cash from those that succeed?"

    According the the current Administration in DC, the answer is a resounding "yes".

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Richard, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Always knew it

    That's the other thing didn't Canada toss out idea patents a few weeks ago?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Scott Seiter, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 11:20pm

    All ideas are similar in nature and many are simply a slight variation of another. Just look at the advances in telecommunications. Is everyone required to pay Bell a royalty for his invention?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    staff1, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 7:17am

    trash

    "Either way, it looks like RIM has finally grown tired of the game and has agreed to pay Visto $267.5 million. It's less than the amount NTP got, but it's still a hefty chunk of change. And, for what? For being the loser in the market place. This is a tax on innovation. The loser in the marketplace forces the winner to hand over a nice chunk of profits. It's bad for everyone (except some lawyers and Visto shareholders)."

    Patents are awarded to the first to invent. If we did not do so no one in their right mind would risk perhaps all their capital and often years of development work to innovate. As they say when you are on the cutting edge you bleed. RIM paid because they were using someone else's technology. Either don't use it, or invent it yourself. Enough with your sour grapes. Who pays you to write this trash?

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Mike builds arguments on false assumptions.

    I have watched RIM for sometime and do not buy their media hype that they invented these things on their own.

    What RIM lacks in an ability to invent the things they need to succeed in their market they make up for in leaving no propaganda stone unturned.

    RIM is repeatedly accused of infringement. Some people see this as evidence of RIM being a victim. I see it as evidence of RIM victimizing real inventors, corporate greed and arrogance.

    Considering their history we can all assume that they do not settle cases based on their moral compass. I think that they did learn a teeny bit from the mistakes they made with inventor Thomas Campana Jr. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Campana,_Jr.) and his partner and patent attorney Don Stout and they are now settling cases when they know that they are likely to lose and that the owner of the invention has the resources to get their day in court.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 - (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: trash

    First to 'invent', no first to write down. There is a real question of obviousness. It is too easy to get a patent on something obvious. There is also a place for developing something independently.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    "But Visto failed."

    I do not understand this. Visto is a software company engaged in creating and selling software for mobile phones. RIM is a hardware company that uses software to enable functionality on its mobile phones.

    Has Visto somehow failed in serving its customer base?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    They aren't getting paid for failing, they are getting paid as being the ones with the idea first. Succeed or fail, they climbed that mountain first and stuck their flag on it.

    As the other poster mentions, you are confusing product (what was retailed) with the patent (the ideas used to make that product). RIM may make a good product, but their willingness to settle suggests that they know that the patents used to make the product just aren't theirs to start with.

    I can't imagine someone with such a passion for copyright and patent laws not knowing and understanding the basic differences between patent and product.

     

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  18.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 18th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    And I can't imagine someone following this story not knowing that RIM invented their technology (hardware, software, server solution) AND their handset products independently.

    So there we are.

    You "protect the inventor" people are fighting the wrong side on this one. RIM are the inventors, and the marketers, and the makers of a great, successful product. The other guys are parasites who were lucky to get granted some bad, overly broad patents which they used to attack the winners.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 18th, 2009 @ 4:25pm

    Re: trash

    "Either don't use it, or invent it yourself. "

    Gawd. Buy a clue! RIM DID invent it themself.

    And do you not know what "sour grapes" means? It's a terrible metaphor for what you are trying to say. Are you saying Mike wanted something, but couldn't get it, so doesn't want it anymore?

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 18th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Mike builds arguments on false assumptions.

    Way to cite poor old (deceased) Campana and his loyal sidekick Stout, and their epic battle against the RIM Goliath. It's useful for you to position it as two lone men fighting the power.

    Also...nice job not mentioning that Campana's related patents are all getting thrown out upon review. That would have weakened your argument.

    "False assumptions", indeed. You seem to assume Campana's inventions were unique and significant. The USPTO review process indicates that assumption to be false.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    The business model of tomorrow; If you can't compete in the free marketplace, lobby the government and sue people.

    Look at all the success that has come from this business model. Lawyers get paid a fortune, the RIAA has achieved tremendous success through lobbying the government and suing people, telco and cable companies are very successful because they lobby the government to restrict competition, patent trolls are a success because of their suing efforts. Just look at the success pharmaceutical corporations have incurred. Bayer has gotten away with selling Aids tainted blood, and the FDA allowed it, and no one (in the U.S) has faced any consequences whatsoever. Not to mention the fact that the lobbying efforts of newspapers are likely to win them laws that benefit them and no one else. Someone should write a book entitled; A successful business model - How to get rich by lobbying the government and suing people. Lets all get rich by lobbying the government and suing people, after all, those that do it are very successful so why shouldn't we benefit from this successful business model?

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Stephan Kinsella (profile), Jul 19th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Why NTP Licensed to Visto

    Mike, you wrote, "That certainly looks like NTP paying a company to license its patents, just to make it looks like there were some legitimate licensees."

    This may be right, but as I explain in "Impact of Patent Licensing on Patent Litigation and Patent Office Proceedings" (available on my legal site), "a license under the patent may be
    offered as persuasive evidence in rebutting a prima
    facie case for obviousness." In other words, one reason patentees seek to license their patents is to build up the case that the patent is not obvious--to use it in litigation later to help defend the patent.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    It doesn't matter if they invented it independantly, if they came to the same solution that was already out there, they are in violation of patents.

    Yes, there are many overtly broad patents out there, but when they were granted, they seemed okay and non-obvious, it is hard to judge standing today what was and was not obvious at the time, what was and was not overbroad at the time.

    200 million buys a lot of lawyering. I think RIM's move shows that they know the truth, and it's cheaper to pay now than it is to fight and pay later.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: trash

    Mike's sour grapes is because RIM paying this money is against his personal agenda. He is so agressive about this stuff, that you would think that one or more of the anti-patent lobby groups was paying him to write it.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: trash

    Name a successful anti patent lobby group and tell me how much money it makes and who funds it.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: trash

    successful? None.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: trash

    I rest my case. Where are these anti-patent lobby groups you keep screaming about and where is the success they have achieved in advancing their agenda? "one or more of the anti-patent lobby groups" you act like there are very many influential anti patent lobby groups but they have no success whatsoever (whoever they are).

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    pdigit, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 6:33pm

    Re:

    Actually should be Meucci, the real inventor of telephone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meucci)!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Re: Inventors Marketers

    Mikeu is a honest PR dude on RIM payroll

    (yes, I believe Mikey took some money from RIM in the past, right, Mikey ?)

    So much for "independent" journalism...

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    JoeEsq, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Not buying it

    Sorry, but I'm not buying that RIM is spending $267.5M to settle a case they feel has no merit. Attorney fees are high, but c'mon...

     

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

  31.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 20th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Inventors Marketers

    Mikeu is a honest PR dude on RIM payroll

    (yes, I believe Mikey took some money from RIM in the past, right, Mikey ?)

    So much for "independent" journalism...


    Nope. We've never taken any money in any way from RIM. In fact, I've criticized them quite a bit for their own patent practices.

    Angry dude, I'm not sure why you feel so compelled to lie, but it's really unbecoming.

     

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


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