Last week, I got a reader e-mail from Kelly in San Francisco, asking if she should be worried about all the legal troubles facing Research in Motion and the possibility of a BlackBerry service shutdown. My advice was to keep using her device as usual, since the chances of a complete shutdown are highly unlikely, according to analysts. Plus, RIM says it has a "workaround" if the service were to be shut down. The company has been secretive about the details of this alternative solution so far, but here's what RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Reuters in an interview yesterday: "We're pretty close to a time where we'll be able to disclose (details of) that." What a tease.
RIM and NTP, a small holding company that sued RIM for patent infringement in 2001, have been involved in a battle over patent rights for the technology that powers RIM's BlackBerry devices. Both companies have gone through their share of wins and losses in court, and most recently, RIM suffered a setback when a judge ruled that RIM either had to pay hundreds of millions in damages or shut down its e-mail service. Market research and consulting firm Gartner even recommended that enterprises halt business-critical deployments of BlackBerrys until the legal matter was resolved. Yet, the next day, RIM got good news when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected one of the patent-infringement claims. The story has more twists and turns than a soap opera (well, maybe not), and given Balsillie's statement, it looks like we're in for some more, so stay tuned.