RIM Sued Yet Again For Patent Infringement

from the maybe-you-shouldn't-have-kicked-up-all-that-dust dept

While most people think of just the NTP lawsuit when they hear about RIM and patent infringement troubles, what's often left out of the discussion is that prior to the NTP suit, RIM was one of the more aggressive companies in filing patent infringement lawsuits against everyone else. In fact, it was news articles about RIM's aggressive patent enforcement strategy that convinced the guys behind NTP to file their lawsuit in the first place. Since paying $612.5 million to NTP to settle that battle, other patent holders have been lining up to sue RIM as well.

Earlier this year, we wrote about another aggressive patent enforcer, Wi-LAN, which sued RIM for infringement. RIM, once again, settled -- indicating a bit of an open season. If you happen to have a patent that RIM might sorta possibly infringe on, why not sue?

The latest to step up to bat is Mformation, who has sued RIM for two separate patents which are both about remote management of a wireless device (Patent 1 and Patent 2). Whatever the merits of the case, all of this has to make you wonder if RIM regrets its decision to kick off the process of suing lots of companies for patent infringement. It seems that the blowback was a lot worse than any benefit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 5:22am

    WTB New Patent System

    Old one must go NOW!

     

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  2.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 5:42am

    One way or another

    What goes around comes around.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 6:49am

    What does one thing have to do with the other?

    First of all, Mformation is a real company, with real products. Were they sued by RIM? If so, your post makes sense. If not, won't RIM just countersue? Maybe this was preemptive by Mformation to get favorable jurisdiction?

    Second, if you are referring to the fact that RIM has been sued by a bunch of non-practicing entities, then what you are saying makes little sense. The analogy would be, don't take measures to kick your competitors off of your property, because that will attract a lot of homeless people to your lawn. The homeless people are going to come whether you take action against your competitors or not.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 6:55am

    Patents Encourage Innovation

    I don't think they regret their actions instead they recognize the patent system as an essential tool in efficient business operations. You seem to think of the patent system as a weapon against competition. However, it is a method of securing exclusive production rights in an attempt to recoup research and development costs. Without the protection of patents what is the incentive of innovation? It is much easier and cheaper for a competitor to reverse engineer an innovative product than it is to come up with new ideas on their own.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Re: What does one thing have to do with the other?

    I want some of what you're smoking!

    Not even with copious amounts of crack could a blog comment be less coherent than yours!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 7:05am

    You stand up to the bully..

    You stand up to the bully..no matter how much you think it might hurt.

    I am sure the suits in the boardroom instructed the lawyers to settle rather than upset their money supply.

    For Tyranny to win, All it takes is for good men to do nothing.
    When RIM settled, they did nothing and now they reap what they sow.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 7:10am

    Would RIM be where they are without protection?

    Really, isnt building a better mouse trap pretty useless unless you can prevent everyone else from building the same "improved" mousetrap?

     

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  8.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 7:20am

    RIM's Entitlement Mentality

    Mike Masnick,

    You will never understand these issues as long as you keep looking at them through your anti-patent glasses.

    In this case you have everything except the fact that RIM has been known to defend their own patents wrong.

    For whatever reasons RIM has an entitlement mentality and acts on it much like a school yard bully. They have acquired a reputation for serial infringement and a belligerent attitude. As a result the community has learned that the best way to deal with RIM is to sue them.

    Many people initially thought that RIM would learn from their errors of judgment, but subsequent events demonstrated that they are slow learners. They made one mistake after another. Those mistakes first became apparent when they repeatedly committed serious errors in how they interacted with the court in the NTP case, the biggest error being getting caught red handed foisting manufactured evidence on the court. There is a reason that they received no relief all the way to the Supreme Court.

    As to your claim that their being sued is blowback, that simply is not the case. They get sued because inventors think that they are taking liberties with their inventions and RIM's track record gives good reason to believe that they will not listen to reason.

    The one thing which might be considered blowback is that RIM has demonstrated that ego trumps good judgment and if one has to sue to get justice companies who have a track record of making expensive errors of judgment are more attractive than those who do not do so :)

    Ronald J. Riley,


    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    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 (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mark K, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 8:08am

    Non Sequiter

    Normally, I'm a big fan of TechDirt and Mike's blog entries. The economics of free really helped to open my eyes.

    However, this particular entry does kind of fall flat when it comes to connecting the dots. Sure, RIM files patent lawsuits in the past. But I don't see any sort of clear evidence here that shows that RIM would not be targeted right now, if they had not fired the first shots.

    Has any representative from Mformation made any statements supporting this?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 8:12am

    Re: Would RIM be where they are without protection?

    Bogus analogy. A mousetrap is a finished product. These are tiny little trivial bits of more complex systems we're talking about here. Here is a better analogy: using a spring to kill a pest. Patent that, and you easily cover a ton of innovations which you never even thought of.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: What does one thing have to do with the other?

    Yes, "mail goggles" or rather "post goggles" would have helped me.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    DanC, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 10:26am

    Re: Non Sequiter

    Sure, RIM files patent lawsuits in the past. But I don't see any sort of clear evidence here that shows that RIM would not be targeted right now, if they had not fired the first shots.

    I don't think there's a direct correlation being made - more of a "you have to deal with the monster you helped create" scenario.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: What does one thing have to do with the other?

    First of all, Mformation is a real company, with real products.

    Odd. I don't remember implying that Mformation wasn't a real company. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything or why you'd even bring it up.

    Were they sued by RIM? If so, your post makes sense. If not, won't RIM just countersue? Maybe this was preemptive by Mformation to get favorable jurisdiction?

    The point was that RIM was a huge believer in suing others for infringement, and that has made them a big target. Also, the company's willingness to settle these suits makes them an even bigger target. That has nothing to do with whether or not RIM sued Mformation.

    Second, if you are referring to the fact that RIM has been sued by a bunch of non-practicing entities

    NPEs has nothing to do with this. I'm not sure why you bring that up.

    The analogy would be, don't take measures to kick your competitors off of your property, because that will attract a lot of homeless people to your lawn. The homeless people are going to come whether you take action against your competitors or not.

    Uh, not quite. It's more like don't call attention to the fact that there's no clear demarcation of property lines here, because when you start claiming property rights that others disagree with you on, you're in for a huge legal fight, as everyone starts claiming you're on their property.

    Things worked fine when people were just focused on building market share, rather than fighting over where imaginary boundaries were.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Re: Patents Encourage Innovation

    I don't think they regret their actions instead they recognize the patent system as an essential tool in efficient business operations.

    That's cost them well over a billion dollars? I don't buy it.

    You seem to think of the patent system as a weapon against competition.

    I don't "seem to think," that, I have evidence to support it.

    However, it is a method of securing exclusive production rights in an attempt to recoup research and development costs.

    Go back and read your Adam Smith. Securing exclusive production rights is a recipe for a smaller market and damaged economics. Bad for everyone.

    Without the protection of patents what is the incentive of innovation? It is much easier and cheaper for a competitor to reverse engineer an innovative product than it is to come up with new ideas on their own.

    Are you new around here? Please don't repeat this widely debunked myth. We've discussed at length why this is wrong, but I'm not about to retype it all again. Do some research.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 11:36am

    Re: Would RIM be where they are without protection?

    Really, isnt building a better mouse trap pretty useless unless you can prevent everyone else from building the same "improved" mousetrap?

    Not at all. First of all, there's tremendous benefit and brand recognition for being first in the market. Second, if all you're doing is building the same mousetrap as anyone else, then why is anyone going to buy from you?

    In a dynamic market, you actually have to keep building better mousetraps, and that's what competition pushes you to do.

    Speaking of mousetraps, there was actually a good episode of This American Life a few weeks back, where they spoke to the largest manufacturer of mousetraps, who noted that building a better mousetrap is rather meaningless. They do most of their business with the traditional old kind of mousetrap that anyone can copy. They test out other models, but very few of them are any good.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Re: RIM's Entitlement Mentality

    You will never understand these issues as long as you keep looking at them through your anti-patent glasses.

    I don't wear glasses, Ronald. I look at things clean on with the evidence in front of me. My mind can be changes if I actually saw some evidence, but to date, no one has shown me any that is credible.

    For whatever reasons RIM has an entitlement mentality and acts on it much like a school yard bully.

    Can you support that with facts? Of course not.

    They have acquired a reputation for serial infringement and a belligerent attitude. As a result the community has learned that the best way to deal with RIM is to sue them.

    Can you support that with facts? Of course not.

    I love the fact that you seem to assume that any patent issued to a small inventor must be legit, but any products actually made in the market is done by "pirates." It's fascinating position to take, and if it were true, we'd live in a world with no actual products.

    Those mistakes first became apparent when they repeatedly committed serious errors in how they interacted with the court in the NTP case, the biggest error being getting caught red handed foisting manufactured evidence on the court.

    Way to take things out of context and blow things out of proportion. They didn't "manufacture evidence." They used an incorrect version, which was bad, and was egregious and they were punished for it.

    Yet it had nothing to do with the eventual outcome of the case, or the fact that the USPTO invalidated NTP's patents. You like ignoring that part.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Mark K, Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Non Sequiter

    True, no direct correlation is being made in the original post. But the implication seems to be there.

    Mike's Comments (#13) seem to back that up. If I may quote him directly, "The point was that RIM was a huge believer in suing others for infringement, and that has made them a big target."

    My point is that I haven't seen any evidence indicating that their earlier lawsuits is what makes them such a big target. Mike may have a valid point, but there is nothing to back it up, or discredit it. Its just opinion.

    I could just as easily make the statement that RIM's financial success and well-known name brand has made them a big target. To me, that would seem like a more logical primary reason for them to be targeted with this type of lawsuit. And of course, the possibility that they have done something against the law is(hopefully) a major factor too.

    Yes, their willingness to settle helps influence the issue, and maybe their past actions have a minor influence, but I doubt either of these can be cited as a primary reason.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike (profile), Nov 3rd, 2008 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Non Sequiter

    My point is that I haven't seen any evidence indicating that their earlier lawsuits is what makes them such a big target.

    NTP stated quite directly that this was their impetus in suing. Furthermore, you can see comments from folks like RJR showing that RIM's actions have built up this belief among patent holders that RIM is a target.

    I could just as easily make the statement that RIM's financial success and well-known name brand has made them a big target.

    Within the space, among RIM's competitors, RIM has been on the receiving end of more patent infringement suits than others.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Fernando, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Don't dangle that participle

    "Since paying $612.5 million to NTP to settle that battle, other patent holders have been lining up to sue RIM as well."

    Not true. The other patent holders did not pay $612.5 million to NTP.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Mark K, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Non Sequiter

    I stand corrected. Thanks for setting me straight.

     

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  21.  
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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Nov 5th, 2008 @ 5:01pm

    Reason for RIM's being sued.

    "Within the space, among RIM's competitors, RIM has been on the receiving end of more patent infringement suits than others."

    And the reason may be that RIM is taking greater liberties with other's IP then the others in their industry.

    Ronald J Riley

     

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


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