RIM calls for patent reform in newspaper ad

BlackBerry maker takes to papers to thank supporters after landmark settlement deal with NTP.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Research In Motion took out a full-page advertisement in eight U.S. newspapers on Tuesday thanking those who supported the company in its dispute with NTP and also urging patent reforms.

In the letter attributed to RIM's co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, RIM said it was "pleased to put this matter behind us and remove any uncertainty from our customers' minds." The ad ran in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and several other papers.

Eleven days ago RIM paid NTP $612.5 million to end the long-running dispute over whether the popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail system infringed on patents held by NTP. Prior to the settlement, Judge James Spencer appeared set to impose an injunction on the sales and support of BlackBerry devices and software in the U.S. after RIM failed to overturn a 2002 jury verdict that it infringed on NTP's patents.

"You can rest assured the BlackBerry is here to stay," RIM said in its letter to the public. However, the company clearly doesn't want to see the current U.S. patent system remain the same.

RIM settled with NTP even though--after the jury verdict and appeals process--the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had has rejected the claims in NTP's five patents at issue in the case. That USPTO decision is not final, as NTP has several routes of appeal, but even if the patents are ultimately rejected, NTP will not have to repay RIM. RIM said earlier this month it had little choice but to settle the case to prevent its customers from delaying new BlackBerry rollouts, but the company appears quite frustrated that the case evolved to this point, as shown in one passage of the letter.

"As to the lingering question of why the patent system should allow such a bizarre set of circumstances to threaten millions of American customers in the first place, we share your concern. The good news is that this topic is currently receiving much more attention from policymakers and the Supreme Court and we hope the patent system will evolve to close the loopholes and become more balanced."