Judge Says The DOJ's BlackBerrys Will Get Cut Off Like Everybody Else's

from the no-preferential-treatement-here dept

The judge ruling on the RIM patent case has denied a bid by the Department of Justice to hold hearings on why government users’ BlackBerry devices should be exempt from any potential shutdown of service, just two days before he hears arguments on whether to grant NTP’s request for an injunction against RIM operating its service in the US. The move comes amid questions being raised over why the government should get special treatment, even though NTP has basically said RIM could go on serving the government. But if the patent can be ignored for the government’s interest, why should it be enforced on everybody else?

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Comments on “Judge Says The DOJ's BlackBerrys Will Get Cut Off Like Everybody Else's”

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Raethb says:


The U.S. government relies heavily on the use of Blackberry technology. It aids in getting our decision makers the correct information as soon as possible and allows our key leaders to stay in communication with one another in even the most remote locations. The DOJ and the government in general are much different than your average corporation. Lets not forget that they provide us with protection from our enemies and if giving the government a waiver in order to aid in that mission, then I am all for it. I would hate to think that one soldier, sailor, marine, or airman died because of information that could have gotten to the right people more quickly. Believe me when I say that killing Blackberry would have a huge impact on the Government.

@ Blackberry says:

Re: Blackberry

For too long our government has been given preferntial treatment. Allowing the government to skate by and not holding them to the same standards that we hold everyone else to isnt just wrong its stupid. Our government already believes itself above the law, as is evident by the innumerous scandals that plage our great land. At some point someone has to draw a line in the sand and hold the higher powers to the flame like everyone else. I am just glad that they are finally starting too.

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Special treatment isn't atypical

But if the patent can be ignored for the government’s interest, why should it be enforced on everybody else?

The reasons all boil down to “because” and have nothing to do with this case:

  • Selective enforcement does not invalidate a patent (unlike the case of trademark infringement) and in fact is common. Typically the richest is sued first and then possibly the smaller players are hoovered up, or alternatively a weaker user is sued first and then when they cave that is used as precedent.
  • Usage by the US government is generally unlimited by patent and indeed such usage can be and is(!) delegated to third party suppliers (look at Crater v. Lucent for a high-profile example from just last year).

Personally I think it would be great if NTP got the blackberry network shut down — good for folks like Palm (I’m not a shareholder, just someone who likes competition) and good for raising the issue of how messed up the software patent world is at the moment. Patent law actually seems to work outside the software domain (a few screw-ups not withstanding) so we need a good example to show the non software-aware how software differs.

angry dude says:

Re: Just kill Crackberry already !

Yeah, I remember reading about Crater vs. Lucent case.
Lucent is just a bunch of dirtbags..
And some moron invoked government executive priviledge so that Lucent doesn’t have to pay a dime to 3 Crater guys while making some undisclosed amount (likely in 100s of mils) on governmebt contract.
What a world we live in !

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Special treatment isn't atypical

“Personally I think it would be great if NTP got the blackberry network shut down” “so we need a good example to show the non software-aware how software differs.”

NTP’s patents have all been rejected, and when it boils down to it, I believe they should be. I think if the network was shutdown, that would be a huge setback for any sort of real progress in software-patents (if we should even have them).

angry dude says:

No Subject Given

Ok, I managed to recover now…
So, what those stupid bastards are saying is that US Government and national security critically depend on some crackberry e-mail service which is routed through some relay server in Canada in order (as originally and wrongly planned) to avoid some patents issued by the US Government.
If this is not outrageously stupid then what is ?

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

Yes, the government relies on Blackberries. They may not be ‘mission critical’ in the traditional sense, but most of the top decision makers have Blackberries (and often Nextel phones w/PtT) as a way to quickly communicate and recieve non-classified information. A lot of people in the White House use them, but also at pretty much all agencies.

It may not be an ideal way of working, but it’s no different than the reliance on Blackberries of thousands of high level executives. Would a shutdown make it impossible for them to do their jobs, probably not, although it would make it a lot more difficult. It would cost a lot of time and money to implement a new solution, even if it is currently available.

BTW, you should be happy about this. 30 years ago, the government would have re-created the Blackberry system at great expense, now they just use off the shelf stuff where ever they can. They use the public internet for email (god forbid!), WiFi (for emergency communication even!) and technologies developed overseas like SAP and Linux (oh no!). All of which is good as they are the single largest consumer of technology and it would be a huge waste of money (and bad for the industry) if they tried to re-invent the wheel every time they needed to deploy a new functionality.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Oh yeah, I am happy

As a small inventor with one patent I am really happy about our government…
So if some scumbag illegally implements my invention into his technology and gives it to US goventment for cheap (like those RIM scumbags did when they gace free Crackberries to Congress people), then I should be stripped of my patent, right ?

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

National security

What’s actually most likely is that the government will invoke provisions in the law that make it impossible for the judge to shutdown Blackberry.

There are a number of ways the government can simply shutdown the case, no matter what the judge says. It’s not always possible to for them to do this, but around patents in particular, there are ways to deal with this sort of situation. One way is to simply make this a national security patent ( see http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/invention/admin.html ) and make it classified. I don’t think they’ve gone down this route yet as they are trying to work within the system, but if push came to shove…


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