Just When You Thought RIM's Patent Problems Were Over
from the this-helps dept
Mobile e-mail software company Visto found itself in an interesting deal with Research In Motion’s tormentor NTP last year, when NTP bought an equity stake in the company at the same time Visto licensed its dubious patents — a move that looked an awful lot like a horse trade orchestrated by NTP in an attempt to bolster its patent case against Research In Motion. It looks like Visto’s now putting both the cash and experience of NTP to use, announcing that it won a patent case against rival Seven and is now suing RIM. While at least Visto sells an actual product, unlike NTP, it’s hard to buy their founder’s claims that they’re “a global leader in the mobile email market” if they can’t compete in the market and have to resort to using legal tactics to try to shut competitors down, or piggyback on their success. The amount of patent litigation in the mobile email space makes it hard to believe that many of these patents aren’t obvious, while prior art isn’t hard to find. On a side note, the Visto case took just five days (in a jury trial, natch) thanks to everybody’s favorite patent judge in Marshall, Texas — so guess where they’ve filed suit against RIM. Seven says the win wasn’t nearly the blowout Visto portrays, as it was found to have infringed just five claims from three patents, rather than the almost 200 claims on six patents Visto alleged. Seven will fight on in court and with the Patent Office, which is re-examining the patents and has offered an initial rejection of one already. Does this sound familiar? It should, as it’s awfully similar to what happened to RIM: the USPTO gives patents that shouldn’t have been awarded in the first place, then can’t undo its screwups fast enough to stop them from being run over by courts that can’t, or won’t, wait.