This time, it is against something critical to running our businesses, not a strictly automation related patent. NTP, the world’s largest patent troll, has won again in its share-the-wealth case against Research In Motion, the inventors of the Blackberry. I’ve got one, everybody darn near that works for Honeywell, and other big companies are issued one, and my Blackberry makes it possible to stay on top of my job and still have a life.
This one is personal, for me and for lots of you.
Like the Solaia case, NTP bought a patent that is “dubious” at best, and is using the provision in US Patent Law that says that anybody can be sued for violating a patent, even if they didn’t know the patent existed (shades of Solaia again). RIM offered to settle out of court for $450 million (!!!— anybody wonder how much R&D this formerly world-shaking technology company can afford to do right now???) but the Judge threw out the settlement, saying it was too small. The judge also refused to stay the case until USPTO (the Patent Office) rules on the status of the patent in question. It is highly likely that the patent will be vacated, since it is “dubious.” The Judge said that the courts could not be made to wait on the scientific validation of a granted patent. It is in force, so he ruled.
What will happen to your Blackberry??? At worst, you may have to buy a Treo. At best, RIM will be forced to settle for something well over $1 Billion.
NTP is also suing Microsoft.
Now, think about what you use, in your business, and if you are a vendor, in your products, that could be patented by some idiot and sold to some venal profit-mongers like NTP…and really be scared.