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Hopes Rise for RIM 143

Posted by Zonk
from the hold-together-baby dept.
sbowles writes "U.S. District Court has set Feb 24th as the next date for a hearing to consider a possible injunction against Research in Motion. Despite this, RIM shares are rising on news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), under pressure from crackberry-addicted Congressmen, may be moving to invalidate NTP's patents. As a contingency, RIM has announced that they have a software workaround that will allow service to continue uninterrupted."
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Hopes Rise for RIM

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:20PM (#14582461) Homepage Journal

    news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), under pressure from crackberry-addicted Congressmen, may be moving to invalidate NTP's patents.

    While I agree that NTP's case is bogus, unhappy Congressmen are the wrong reason for invalidating the patents in question: it hoists them above the rules everyone else has to live under.
    I think most would agree that far more people are disillusioned about the entire patent process. Apparently, though, nothing will come of that until some government-types are inconvenienced by the system.
    • Given the immediacy of the threat to RIM service, I think this scenario is the best that can be hoped for -- political intervention, either via legislation or influence over the Patent Office. Theortetically the Patent Office has the mechanisms already in place to deal with this issue, but the bureacracy is just slow to take effect...

      As bad as patent law has become, it can't be overhauled overnight; a substantial commitment to a thorough review must be made, where the interests of inventors, intellectual
    • from crackberry-addicted

      This is just the first time I have ever heard someone use the term "crackberry" other then my friend and myself...Thank god :)
    • I don't know what behid the scenes political pressure has been applied (and I doubt that anyting new in the last few weeks has had any effect), but there has been a reexamination (actually two that have been merged); anyone can see what has been going on by checking out 90/006492 in the public PAIR system [uspto.gov].

      Briefly, there have been two non-final rejections, the last one mailed on November 30, 2005, and all the claims under reexamination (I haven't checked if there are other claims not included that would r
    • "unhappy Congressmen are the wrong reason for invalidating the patents in question:"
      That is actually how the system is supposed to work.
      Congressmen are supposed to represent the people in their district. When something happens to make the people unhappy the congress person from that area are supposed to do something about it.
      To be honest this is the first patent case that affects a large number of people directly. If you notice the halt of service will not effect Federal Blackberries so the users in congres
    • While I agree that NTP's case is bogus, unhappy Congressmen are the wrong reason for invalidating the patents in question

      I'd just like to point out that "unhappy Congressmen" is not the *reason* for "invalidating the patents", rather said Congressmen are instead a force or catalyst. You even stated that "NTP's case is bogus". So said bogusness is the *reason* for patent invalidation.

      In this matter, the Congressmen have a point. After all, should we really punish the end user in the name of protectin
    • While I agree that NTP's case is bogus, unhappy Congressmen are the wrong reason for invalidating the patents in question: it hoists them above the rules everyone else has to live under.

      Further, any action taken by the USPTO may be appealed to the USPTO's Board of Patent Appeals; (then optionally appealed to Federal District Court); then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; then the US Supreme Court.

      The point is that there are a LOT of federal judges appointed for life between what t

    • Ahh, but it reveals the truth about the situation. Money and power matter, a small company that invented something does not.

      Plus, everyone has been fooled into thinking RIM originated the idea. Gee, and they have money... and power.

      Basically, if you rip off/duplicate a patent holder's idea... public consensus is that this is ok as long as the ripoff if cool... like the Blackberry. Who cares about the political shenanigans, the flouting of US Patent law, if the item is cool that's ... cool. Right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:23PM (#14582491)
    Because I'd really love to have a Rim job.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:25PM (#14582513) Homepage Journal
    then why not implment it and end the whole mess?
    • "then why not implment it and end the whole mess?"

      Because they have eaten too many crackers and can't whistle past the grave yard yet.

    • Either that or they don't truly know how it'll work in the real world with hundreds of thousands of users. Sure, working in a controlled environment is fine and dandy to test things, but surely they can't be positive it'll work across the board.
    • It would require reloading/patching all devices and the server software on all customer servers.
    • I'm guessing the 'workaround' is inferior in some respect. otherwise, they would have switched already instead of playing chicken with NTP.

      Notice how they don't say much about what the workaround is (other than to say it requires a software update on the blackberry handhelds which they'll preload on new blackberry's if required)

      something's rotten
    • I'm not an expert, but wouldn't they have to pay the (retroactive) royalties to NTP if they implemented a workaround (essentially throwing in the towel)?? If they fight it, perhaps the powers that be rule that they don't owe NTP anything...
    • I suspect that there are workarounds possible -- it's "only" wireless email afterall. But RIM still has to continue to fight this until the very end. If they lose, they will have to pay royalties on all devices previously sold. The software fix would allow them to continue selling new, unencumbered, devices. So, RIM is doing the smart thing by dragging this out as long as possible. They have a reasonable chance of winning, thereby saving hundreds of millions in royalties. And, more importantly, it buy
    • Because they don't have one, simple as that, it's a bluff and a poor one at that. This is an attempt to frighten NTP, to get them to say "Oh we better take their offer right away, otherwise they'll work around our patents and we won't get ANYTHING!"

      If RIM really had it, they would implement it immediately - this case is hurting them terribly.
    • That's easier said than done. In a lab environment I'm sure it works, but the issue here is not all blackberries can accept updates on the fly, but instead have to download it manually to the blackberry.

      With the new updates to the BES servers, I think 4.0 to be exact, it does allow you to push updates over the air but it doesn't always work very well. Company I work for pushes software wirelessly and we barely get 75% acceptance rate on a user base of approx 1000 and we have pretty much use only 2 types.

      A
    • My guess is that RIM is expecting the workaround to get challenged by NTP as still violating their patents. Waiting until the last minute to roll out the workaround buys RIM time while the challenge works it way through the courts.

      This has 2 results, it delays the possible injunction, and it forces another court decision later in time which will hopefully be after all the patents have been invalidated by the USPTO.
    • From what I hear, the workaround likely involves only subject being pushed to the device, and the body of the message isn't downloaded until the user opens the message. The user experience would be a bit different as messages are not immediately available, thus RIM maintaining the full push as long as they can.
  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:25PM (#14582519)
    "As a contingency, RIM has announced that they have a software workaround that will allow service to continue uninterrupted."

    Dad was telling me to buy shares in this company. I should have listened.
  • Workaround... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:28PM (#14582541) Homepage Journal
    So what happens to SCo's case if the work around is accepted and validated by a higher court? That's right- they'd be hosed! Well, more so, but it will be interesting to see how this case plays out and the ripples that it causes.
    • So what happens to SCo's case if the work around is accepted and validated by a higher court? That's right- they'd be hosed! Well, more so, but it will be interesting to see how this case plays out and the ripples that it causes.

      Oddly enough, nothing.

      RIM is one of the few companies SCO is not involved in litigation with.

      NTP is the other party here.
  • I admit I've always wondered wtf the big deal about the BlackBerry was, browsed the site a bit and probably came to the wrong conclusion. From what I could tell, was that it was a really schpiffy looking PDA'ish type thing that has a nice enterprise-grade suite of integrated backend stuff like mail/etc?

    Is that even remotely close to what all the hype is about?
    • Nostly, you can keep your appointments/calendar, memos, tasks, emails, etc in sync with your Exchange profile. Some of them have 2-way capabilities, but other than that, they're just normal cells as far as I can tell.
      • Re:Ok I admit (Score:5, Informative)

        by NickV (30252) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:38PM (#14582648)
        They're much more than normal cells... They're push based email devices, so there's no need to poll for email or "check your inbox". It gets your email almost as soon as it shows up in your email box at home/work. Very powerful, and very useful. You're always connected (and like a phone it can vibrate or ring whenever you get an email.)

        Additionally, you can send, accept, etc meeting requests, check other people's calendars, etc. In a large enterprise environment, its pretty indispensible.
        • In other words, nothing that can't be done with any 'cell' that connects to a 2.5 or 3g network and has the abbility to run local apps.

          The power of the blackberry is in the integration they have, not in the features they provide.
          • You can duplicate the functionality of the device with a pda on any decent wireless data network except that for email etc it's push technology like a pager and without sacrificing battery life. At ti's core it's a two way pager more than an cell phone. This means it's not activly checking your email all the time it's just waiting for a packet with it's name on it so it does not have to transmit except to ack the data being received. If your not in range you will get all your new emails etc once you are.
            • The only problem with a PDA and 'mail push' is its battery life. A smartphone does not have this problem at all, and push technology to get notifications or info to a phone ona GSM or GPRS network has been there for as long as those 2 exist, or do you really think a phone is continuesly polling for text and multimedia messages? You realize how easy it is to trigger a mail receiver with that and and then initialize the mail transfer? That is also what this 'pager' functionality in Blackberries does basicly.
        • It gets your email almost as soon as it shows up in your email box at home/work. Very powerful, and very useful. You're always connected (and like a phone it can vibrate or ring whenever you get an email.)

          How does this differ from an IMAPS connection in IDLE mode?
    • Re:Ok I admit (Score:4, Informative)

      by URSpider (242674) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:53PM (#14582818) Homepage
      Yes, it is. The big deal is that they sell an additional piece of hardware/software that your admin installs inside your firewall, which bundles up all of your corporate e-mail and sends it out to the device. Add that to the included readers for most popular office formats, and the easy-to-use keyboard, and it becomes a mobile office.

      Keep in mind that, for most people with firewalled email servers, a device like this is the only way that they can have remote access to their e-mail, if their sysadmin supports it.

      This probably doesn't seem like a big idea to all the uber-geeks out there, but it's practically a miracle to salespeople and middle management types who can't configure a mail client on their own.
      • I beg your pardon. ;-)

        I'm not in management, and AM an über geek, and my BB is indespensible purely because in meetings I can send and receive PIN msgs to and from my colleagues. It's the 21st equivalent of passing notes.

        Oh, and the browser is the only way I have to check GMail from work.
      • Keep in mind that, for most people with firewalled email servers, a device like this is the only way that they can have remote access to their e-mail, if their sysadmin supports it.

        If the company/sysadmin is happy to send its mail out through a third party's servers using a proprietary blackbox inside their internal network to leap the firewall, but won't open port 993 for an industry standard secure mail protocol, then someone has needs their head read.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:29PM (#14582560) Journal
    The invalidation would be irrelevant and unnecessary if RIM has workarounds.

    They're not making any money from already-sold devices.

    And they'll be able to continue selling new ones.

    They'll spend a few bucks selling firmware upgrades, if that's even possible.

    Or they'll sell "upgraded" devices (maybe at a slim discount) to current customers.

    Now, that might invite a class-action lawsuit from Blackberry owners claiming they were defrauded by someone selling pirated IP, but when has that ever cost any company what it was really worth to the class?

    At worst, the judge will order RIM to pay a reasonable royalty. Shutting down the network would not be a legal option.

    Now, where's my broker's number? I need to text him a buy order....
    • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:50PM (#14582791)
      The invalidation would be irrelevant and unnecessary if RIM has workarounds. They're not making any money from already-sold devices.

      "Officer, I'm not speeding. As you can see, we're both here at the side of the highway, at a dead stop."

    • They're not making any money from already-sold devices.

      ???

      They sure as hell are. All those companies that have the Enterprise Server to link into the email system are paying them scads of money each year in licensing fees. Those license fees are a "per device" basis (generally speaking) so each blackberry sold to a company is generating annual revenue for them.
      • No, you pay for the software, you pay for a per device license, and if you want you pay per device per year for support. If you do not need/want support then there is no ongoing revenue stream for RIM.
    • "They're not making any money from already-sold devices."

      How exactly do you figure this? In some cases, the money is directly from corporations (licensing fees for BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, which are required to fully integrate the device into a coroprate environment). For individual users, there is usually a "BlackBerry plan" through the service provider- a portion of which is paid to RIM for providing blackberry internet email service. In my case, There is a line item (separate from my voice plan)
    • They're not making any money from already-sold devices.

      Yes they are. ALL data (but not voice calls) that go to a BlackBerry pass through RIM servers, so as long as someone is paying and using a device, RIM is seeing a portion of the fees (often indirectly, though).

      (RIM ex-Employee)

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:31PM (#14582590)
    under pressure from crackberry-addicted Congressmen, may be moving to invalidate NTP's patents

    I don't know about you, but I don't want any addicts making my laws.
  • by pestie (141370) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:33PM (#14582610) Homepage
    Am I the only person here who's never used a Blackberry and never known anyone who's used one?

    Yes, I know some genius is going to reply "Yes." and probably get modded +5, Funny for it. But I'm serious. I've never seen one of these things in use.
    • by imadoofus (233751) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:40PM (#14582665)
      Yes.
    • Nope, I never even so much as seen a Blackberry and I didn't know what one was until about 6 months ago. Reading Slashdot is only reason I know what one is. All I know is that it's a portable device that interacts with your email account.

      I simply don't know anyone who has one: surprising, considering I have some pretty geeky friends, and I work with bunch of programmers.
      • I simply don't know anyone who has one: surprising, considering I have some pretty geeky friends, and I work with bunch of programmers.

        The blackberry isn't really aimed at your average geeky programmer. It's more for your corporate suit types. Programmers are more likely to roll their own solution to email on the move using a POP/IMAP client or Java midlet on their PDA/phone and some procmail scripts to filter it down to what they're really interested in.

    • Am I the only person here who's never used a Blackberry and never known anyone who's used one?

      Yes.

      Yes, I know some genius is going to reply "Yes." and probably get modded +5, Funny for it.

      I hope so.
    • Yes, I know some genius is going to reply "Yes." and probably get modded +5, Funny for it.


      I was tempted, but someone else beat me to it.

      Seriously, I thought blackberries were those fruits you could get in the grocery store. I've seen references to the other kind on slashdot and other places, but I've never used one. OTOH, there's a reason I call myself "Cro Magnon".
    • I didn't know if you were asking for a response of someone that uses one, but I do, and I love it.

      The main reason I like it so much is that all my contacts from Outlook are wirelessly sync'd and that it does simple email. In my line of work I need to keep in contact with many people and the ability to respond to emails quickly is important. It's not important for me to send an email with really fancy formatting, and if I need to send an attachment I'll simply respond "I'll get that to you a bit later."

    • by MyDogHasFleas (880529) on Friday January 27, 2006 @04:43PM (#14583413)
      Yes, I know some genius is going to reply "Yes."

      Close, but it wasn't a genius... it was a doofus

    • Uh...no.

      (really, I've never seen one or known anyone with one.)
  • by Deeper Thought (783866) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:40PM (#14582670)
    NTP filed their patents in the 90's.

    Hams have used Packet Radio since 1980. Packet Radio is wireless transmission of ASCII messages, which is what RIM provides via Blackberry receivers. How is this not prior art?

    What is packet radio: http://www.choisser.com/packet/part01.html [choisser.com]
    Wiki on Packet Radio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_radio [wikipedia.org]

    • by Andy Dodd (701) <.ude.llenroc. .ta. .7dta.> on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:52PM (#14582808) Homepage
      I believe NTP's patents are on a much narrower definition of the way RIM's system works.

      i.e. they haven't patented sending text messages between devices, they've patented a very specific method of making email available to a mobile device. I don't recall, but I believe the patent deals partially with the corporate firewall problem.

      In short, whether it is valid or not, their patent does not apply to packet radio, nor can packet radio be considered prior art for the system.

      A good example. Joe Caveman invents the wheel in 500 B.C.

      In 1990, John Doe invents a specific tread pattern for a rubber tire that has some Really Nifty Benefit. It's based on the wheel, but enhances it. John Doe can't patent the wheel due to prior art (Joe Caveman in 500 B.C.), but John can patent his specific enhancement of the wheel.
    • Apparently, and IANAL, this is not the issue *right now*. The problem is that the patent does exist, and NTP is actively trying to enforce it.

      As I understand it, there is no way to challenge an already granted patent until the patent holder attempts to sue somebody for infringement. After that, the successful defense of the case may result in the patent being declared invalid (due to prior art, too broad of a scope, etc). But, you can't arbitrarily browse the USPTO web site and attempt to have a patent
    • 'Packet radio' is not among the NTP patent's 89 claims. The patent, No. 5,436,960 [uspto.gov], claims an email system using packet radio, among many other things.

      For a better understanding of prior art in patents, please read Part II [cornell.edu] of the Patent Act, United States Code Title 35. The big thing to remember is that for the purposes of prior art, the invention is treated on a claim-by-claim basis. See 35 USC 111(a) [cornell.edu], and 35 USC 112, para. 2 [cornell.edu]. Prior art can invalidate a patent because the invention isn't new (35 USC 102 [cornell.edu]),

    • Prior art doesn't necessarily invalidate a patent. You can patent a "better" mousetrap, and just because someone has already patented the mousetrap, it doesn't make your patent invalid. If the mousetrap patent is still active, you may have to pay royalties when you sell your "better" mousetrap, because it would overlap with the other patent.
  • Now that RIM has a software workaround, I'm thinking that NTP may have
    just lost a lot of money. RIM may no longer have any reason to
    settle out of court with NTP, or at least they may cut the offer
    way back as a result.

    I'm curious as to if this software will work on all BlackBerry
    models, or just the newer ones.
  • [i]The U.S. government has even joined the dispute, arguing that BlackBerry's are vital to national security.[/i] Sure, if they have some flaw known only to the NSA that allows them to read terrorist messages: they don't want people moving to something more secure, perhaps?
    • Or it just may be that they would like to be able to use their blackberries in case of some disaster.
    • As a BB user & admin, I'm not aware of any mobile platform (that offers the same features) that is more secure than the BB system.

      -Nick
      • by arivanov (12034)
        You are showing all signs of addiction including detachment from reality and assigning to your addictive substance (crackberry) mythical powers which it does not posses. Encryption is clearly not one of them.

        If I recall correctly the Crackberry is the only wireless email system where the PGP and x509 integration are solely at the server. The messages are decrypted at the server and sent to the device unencrypted perusing only the GPRS wireless encryption which is pretty weak by modern standards. They are

        • Wrong (Score:3, Informative)

          by acoustix (123925)
          Here's some info on BB security/encryption:

          http://www.blackberry.com/products/software/server /exchange/security.shtml [blackberry.com]

          -Nick
          • The diagram you are pointing to is a lie. If it was true the BES would have been talking to handsets directly and it does not. It talks to something in RIM. That something talks to the provider GPRS network and via it to the handheld.

            This is what I am referring to.

            No-one knows what happens there. There is no information in the press and all marketing literature is full of lies. All of it carefully omits this RIM side component. Personally, I seriously doubt that they have the computing power in the older ha
  • by fuzzy12345 (745891) on Friday January 27, 2006 @03:46PM (#14582742)
    Not that this will happen, but...

    If RIM were to say, on a Monday morning, "Due to patent litigation in the US, all Blackberry service will be turned off immediately, indefinitely" we'd see patent reform by Wednesday.

    Just as "hard cases make bad law," sometimes there's a confluence of defendant and public (uh, congresional) interest which cause a certain set of facts to be uniquely positioned as a spur to reform. I don't want exclusions for federal workers, I want this case to be used as a blunt instrument to get congress to address the problem. UNFORTUNATELY, what would be best for everyone (IMHO) isn't what's best for RIM, and I doubt they'd take one for the team.

    • What's funny is that you're absolutely right. I wonder how many execs at the suing company actually use a blackberry. How many congressmen? How many Judges? How many USPTO employees? They would be falling all over themselves.
    • by emil (695) on Friday January 27, 2006 @04:35PM (#14583310) Homepage

      I don't know much about it, but this guy's comment [slashdot.org] doesn't make RIM look likely to be a good poster boy for patent reform.

    • "what would be best for everyone (IMHO) isn't what's best for RIM, and I doubt they'd take one for the team."

      Particularly considering it's a Canadian company. That'd be kind of like taking one for someone else's team.

      #include "rant_about_the_usa_ruining_everything_for_the_res t_of_the_world.h"

      I'd be extremely surprised to see RIM do something like that, especially since they have a workaround in case everything goes wrong. Even if NTP wins, they lose. Everybody's lawyers get paid, and some lobby group or ot
  • it would be interesting if, for whatever reasons, Congress will be able to rule NTP's patents with regard to Blackberries invalid. After that, we can push for a lot of things to be made invalid citing similar circumstances.
  • ...huh? What was that? Something about patents? Sorry, I was busy sending out some emails.
  • Hell I could give a darn less if they cut off the email to mine, however just don't take away my blackberrry ssh terminal.....i live and die by that sucker...
  • by pdschmid (916837) on Friday January 27, 2006 @04:21PM (#14583141)
    From one of TFA [ottawabusi...ournal.com]:
    RIM shares were up almost one per cent on Friday trading on the TSX. Analysts and fund managers who hold RIM shares say its looks increasingly likely that RIM will settle its ongoing patent dispute with NTP Inc. of Virginia, rather than see the service blacked out.

    Also, one of TFA includes no information that would justify the comment that the USPTO is under pressure from congressmen to speed up its process of looking into the NTP patents. From the TFA [ottawabusi...ournal.com]:

    The U.S. represents about 70 per cent of the BlackBerry market, and the prospect that a judge would issue an injunction closing down the service has business executives and political leaders wondering how they will get along without the devices. The U.S. government has even joined the dispute, arguing that BlackBerry's are vital to national security.
    Instead, there is an analysis into the patent dispute in one of TFA [macworld.com]:
    Right around the time the parties will be meeting in Judge Spencer's courtroom, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be moving toward a final resolution of the NTP patents at the heart of this dispute. Last December, the office issued another set of preliminary rulings that found NTP's patents to be invalid. NTP's response is due by Feb. 28. A report this week by analysts at investment banker Goldman Sachs noted that "NTP must prove that these patents contain new inventions on several key patents by Feb. 28 or face the PTO permanently rejecting the patents," the authors wrote. "If the PTO issues final rejections on any or all of the five NTP patents, this could change the course of the lawsuit. To the extent that patents are ruled invalid, we believe that it is likely that this would be considered by the District Court."
  • Or is it rimming congressmen ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rimming/ [wikipedia.org]
  • eh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dr Floppy (898439)
    its not just congressmen and senators its also their staff and the lobbyists and reporters in DC that live on blackberries. I worked in the senate last semester and saw it first hand, RIM service in DC is indispensable and may bring both legislative houses to a crawl if shut down.

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